In the wake of such short-term price forecast downgrade by Goldman Sachs and reduced demand in the United States because of fires at two refineries, oil prices continue falling, Reuters reported on Monday.

By 0900 Moscow time Brent futures had fallen by $0.69 to $49.42 a barrel, while WTI futures were down by $0.78, to $47.58. Prices for both benchmarks have been falling seven weeks in a row, and are now at the lowest level since April 2009.

Investments in shale oil will decline if the price for U.S. benchmark remains at $40 during the first half of the year, the report said.

The number of permits issued for drilling oil and gas wells in the United States rose slightly in December after there was a drop of almost 40% in November, according to the data of Drilling Info company, provided exclusively for Reuters. Demand for oil in the United States is likely to decrease in the coming days due to the fires at two large refineries, one of which is the largest one on the East Coast.

Venezuela has announced an agreement with Saudi Arabia to support the oil market and prices through joint policy measures, without disclosing the details. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has repeatedly stated that it will not reduce production to stabilize the market, ignoring the suggestions of several OPEC countries, including Venezuela.

Last week, for the first time since 2009, the world oil market flipped into a contango - a situation where the prices of goods with immediate delivery are lower than the prices with deferred delivery.