As of 0715 Kyiv time, Brent crude oil was trading at $55.50 a barrel. A few hours earlier prices had hit the level of $55.36 cents - the lowest since May 2009.

Analysts attribute the downward trend to substantial excess oil reserves amid weakening demand for the commodity. The decision by OPEC in November not to reduce its oil output has placed additional pressure on oil prices.

The decrease in oil prices has an adverse effect on the economy of those countries that are heavily dependent on energy exports, particularly Russia, which relies on oil and gas exports for around 50% of its budget revenues.