On January 5, the price of Brent crude resumed its downward course, losing about 5% of its value. Prices had stabilized somewhat over the holiday period. 

The price of WTI crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, has also been falling, and is now less than $50 a barrel – the lowest price in April 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.