02 January 2015, Lagos – Oil has dropped below $56 a barrel and was heading for its biggest annual decline since 2008, pressured by weakening demand and a supply glut prompted by the U.S. shale boom and OPEC’s refusal to cut output.
Reuters stated that the price of global benchmark Brent crude has nearly halved in 2014 as demand growth slowed, the United States expanded output and OPEC, dropping its strategy of trimming supply to keep oil around $100 a barrel, chose instead to defend market share.
On Wednesday, prices came under further pressure from a survey showing China’s factory sector shrank for the first time in seven months in December – a bearish indication on the strength of oil demand in the world’s second-largest consumer.
“Here we are on the very last session of the year and Brent is making new lows, again,” said Tony Machacek, an oil broker at Jefferies Bache in London.
“There’s no reason to see why the downtrend should not continue.”Brent was down $1.72 at $56.18 by 8.26 a.m., after earlier dropping as low as $55.81, its weakest since May 2009. U.S. crude was down $1.19 at $52.93.
The annual decline for Brent is set to be the biggest since 2008, when demand crumbled in response to the financial crisis. Prices were, eventually, propped up by OPEC’s last formal decision to cut production.
In contrast, OPEC at a November 27 meeting this year decided against a cutback to defend its market share against shale oil and other competing supply sources, despite its own forecasts of a growing surplus in 2015.