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Brent hits 11-year low as oil extends slide on glut worries

[SINGAPORE] European benchmark Brent crude slid to an 11-year low on Monday as oil prices resumed their slide in an oversupplied global market facing the prospect of renewed US exports.

At 0730 GMT, Brent crude for February delivery was down 59 US cents at US$36.29.

US pricing standard West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery was 36 US cents lower at US$34.37.

US lawmakers last week lifted a 40-year ban on oil exports, a historic shift, even though analysts say the world supply glut is still the main driver of prices in the short term.

Daniel Ang, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said Brent could be testing its 11-year low because the United States lifted its export ban, which has been in place since the oil crisis of the mid-1970s.

"This gives Brent more weakness than WTI, as seen from the narrowing WTI-Brent spread." "However, at the end of the day, I would think that prices would face strong support as they move lower, and I would think that we would not see prices below $30," Ang added.

Bloomberg News said Brent slid by as much as 71 US cents to US$36.17 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the lowest level in intraday trade since July 13, 2004.

Overall, crude has sunk more than 60 per cent from above US$100 in summer 2014.

Prices have particularly slumped since December 4 when the OPEC oil producers' group decided against limiting production, despite tepid demand and the supply glut.

Oversupply woes were also stoked on Friday by the Baker Hughes US oil rig count, which showed an increase of 17 for the week ending December 18 to 541 rigs.

This added to "the already prevailing negative sentiments in the market due to the build-up in inventory", said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific Oil and gas practice at professional services organisation EY.

Gupta said the lifting of the US export bans would have no immediate effect on spot prices but could be "negatively impacting long-term futures prices".