• Brent crude falls below $50 a barrel
  • Iran calls for emergency Opec meeting
  • Outlook for Brent crude average price now $54 a barrel for 2015

Crude prices have hit a six-year low on concerns of a Chinese economic slowdown, as stock markets in China and Europe suffer heavy falls.

Brent and WTI futures fell below $50 barrel and $45 a barrel respectively in trading on 24 August, reaching lows not seen since the height of the 2008/09 global financial crisis.

The slowdown in China’s economy is expected to put pressure on growth in other regional economies, leading to a drop in demand for oil and other natural resources.

The sharp drop in prices has caused Iran to call for an emergency Opec meeting to help the 12-country group of exporters stabilise the market.

In late 2015, Riyadh decided to pursue a policy of maintaining global market share, despite an oversupply situation caused in part by the production boom in unconventional oil in North America.

Major Middle East oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq have been pumping crude at long-term record levels in 2015.

The market is also preparing for the impact of a resurgent Iran, which is set to boost exports after the removal of economic sanctions expected in 2016.

Earlier in August, the US-based Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut its outlook for Brent prices to an average of $54 a barrel for 2015 and $59 a barrel in 2016 – drops of $6 and $8 respectively.

Lower oil prices have caused the US’ Fitch Ratings to revise its outlook for Saudi Arabia from stable to negative.

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