[SINGAPORE] Oil prices on Tuesday slipped further toward six-year lows in Asia after major crude producers stressed they will maintain output levels despite an oversupply.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery was down 34 US cents at US$45.55 a barrel in late morning trade and Brent crude for February dropped 43 US cents to US$46.16.
"OPEC is likely to stick with current production levels at least until the next OPEC meeting in June," said Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.
Crude prices were already on the decline after peaking above US$100 a barrel in June, but the fall accelerated from November 27 when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to maintain output levels.
OPEC member United Arab Emirates on Tuesday underscored the cartel's resolve not to slash output in the face of the price rout and waning demand and urged the United States to cut its production of shale oil, which has been largely credited for the supply glut.
"We cannot continue to be protecting a certain price," UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said.
"We have seen the oversupply, coming primarily from shale oil, and that needed to be corrected," he told participants in the Gulf Intelligence UAE Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.
And Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said: "We expect this situation to continue until the surplus on the market is absorbed and the world economy improves." Analysts said investors were looking at a US stockpiles report due to be released on Wednesday for further clues on the supply situation in the world's biggest economy and oil consumer.