Burst Bubble

LONDON, October 16, 2008 (AFP) – Oil prices slumped further on Thursday, with Brent crude sliding below 68 dollars a barrel to the lowest level for more than 15 months, as slowing energy demand took its toll, traders said. Crude oil futures were down more than 50 percent from record highs of above 147 dollars reached in July, when prices rocketed on fears of supply disruptions.

In early London trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November slumped to 67.17 dollars a barrel — the lowest point since mid-2007.

It later recovered to 68.17 dollars by about 0830 GMT, down 2.63 dollars from Wednesday’s close.

The contract had ended down 3.73 dollars on Wednesday as mounting fears of a global recession raised expectations of a prolonged slowdown to global energy demand.

In Thursday trade, New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, was down 2.06 dollars at 72.48 dollars a barrel after sinking as low as 71.21.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Wednesday cut its estimate for growth in demand for oil this year and in 2009 largely because of an “excessive” easing of demand in the United States.

For 2008, the cartel cut its estimate for