(EnergyAsia, December 16 2014, Tuesday) — Brent crude oil is expected to fall below US$60 a barrel for the first time since May 2009 as the UAE and Iran warn it could slump to US$40. The North Sea benchmark crude was trading just above US$60 a barrel during the New York trading day Monday while US WTI was barely defending US$55.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it will not reduce production as leading member Saudi Arabia appears to be favouring protecting its market share at the expense of near-term revenue. At its ministerial meeting on November 27, the 12-member cartel said it is sticking to its production quota of 30 million b/d despite growing evidence the global oil markets will remain in surplus on account of rising supply and slowing demand growth.

In its latest short-term outlook, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expects Brent crude price to average US$68 per barrel and (bbl) in 2015, and WTI to trade at $63.

Earlier this month, ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson told CNBC that his company was in a position to weather markets conditions with crude at US$40 a barrel.

Speaking at CNBC’s Business Roundtable summit, he said ExxonMobil’s “massive” liquefied natural gas and deepwater drilling projects are decade-long investments that have been tested to perform across a broad range of price ranges, from US$40 to US$120 per barrel.