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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 22, 2008 with no responses

Feb. Oil Slips Below $40 on Weakening Demand

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Oil prices continued to drift lower on signs that the global economic woes would continue to curb demand, and settled under $40 a barrel in trading on Monday.

According to the Japanese Finance Ministry, the country’s crude-oil imports tumbled 17 percent to 3.71 million barrels a day last month.

Apparent oil consumption in China fell by 3.2 percent in November from a year ago, according to Reuters calculations.

U.S. light, sweet crude for February delivery traded down $2.45, or 5.78 percent, to settle at $39.91 a barrel.

The expired January contract touched $32.40 on Friday—the lowest since February 2004.

Crude oil has fallen more than $100 since hitting its hisg of more than $147 a barrel in July.

OPEC’s announced production cut last week of 2.2 million barrels per day on top of an earlier 2 million bpd have not yet had the desired effect. But there’s speculation that the oil cartel will make another production cut in the future if oil doesn’t stabilize soon.

“Don’t doubt the efforts of OPEC or its members to return the oil market to stability,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters over the weekend in Qatar.