New York, Oct.17 : Oil prices have for the first time in 14 months dropped below the 70 dollar per barrel mark, prompting the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to consider summoning an emergency meeting next week to establish some stability in prices.
A New York Times report said the oil prices have tumbled by nearly 40 dollars a barrel in just three weeks as indications grow that demand for energy will slow along with weakening economies around the world.
As recently as July, oil was trading at a record of 145 dollars a barrel, the report said.
The paper quoted energy economist Lawrence Goldstein as saying that the decline in oil prices could provide a form of stimulus to the economy as consumers pay less to fill up their tanks.
If oil prices stay at current levels, consumers would have 250 billion dollars more over a year to save or spend elsewhere, Goldstein claimed.
Some analysts expect oil prices to keep declining, perhaps to as low as 50 dollars a barrel in coming months.
The NYT said that Americans would probably see lower energy bills this winter, as gasoline and heating oil futures also dropped sharply on Thursday.
Gasoline prices now average 3.08 dollars a gallon, down from a summer peak of 4.11 dollars a gallon.
The decline in oil prices came after a government report showed domestic crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected as Americans use less oil, in part because they are driving less.
In the last month, domestic oil demand has fallen to its lowest level since June 1999, at 18.6 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Department.