World oil prices tumbled below 45 dollars a barrel in Asian trade on Monday after the OPEC cartel decided not to cut output during a weekend meeting.
New York’s main futures contract,light sweet crude for April,fell 1.91 dollars to 44.34 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April declined 38 cents to 44.71.
Some analysts had expected the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to slash production during its meeting in Vienna yesterday in a bid to shore up prices,which have tumbled from historic highs after a global economic crisis weakened energy demand.
But the cartel,which pumps about 40 percent of the world’s crude,decided to hold off from further cuts.
OPEC oil ministers delayed the decision until at least May to give rich and emerging nations time to respond to the global economic crisis.
“It’s a rollover until May,” Iraqi oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani told reporters in Vienna after the meeting,using the technical term for the decision to hold output steady.
For Algerian energy minister Chakib Khelil,it was “a responsible position” that would “give the chance to the G20 to do its job on April 2. In light of the decision they will make,we’ll make our decision on May 28.”