The price of benchmark Brent crude oil fell below the psychologically important $50 a barrel mark on Wednesday.
The last time it was that price was May 2009.
Too much crude available for sale and weak demand from countries stuck in the economic doldrums has pulled the price down by more than half from its peak above $115 a barrel in June last year.
Prices are down by more than 10 percent so far this year.
Brent has fallen from $69 a month ago to below $50, though the price did pick up a bit late on Wednesday.
US light crude – West Texas Intermediate – is down a similar amount.
Mike Ingram, a market commentator with BGC, said
“Pre-Christmas all I was hearing was how great an oil price decline was for the consumer and a boost for the global economy. As I pointed out at the time there are some rather unpleasant side effects to this of course. One of which is possible geo-political tension generated by some of the oil producers, I’m thinking principally here, Russia.”
Stockpiles continue to mount with no signs of a cut in production from OPEC, which is determined to win back market share by making it uneconomic for US shale oil producers to keep pumping.
Analysts expect further price falls because of factors like slower Chinese economic growth.
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