The price of Brent crude oil declined below $50 a barrel following the announcement of record oil production in Iraq for December.

Reuters reported that Brent crude traded at around $49.40 a barrel, while US crude was down 74 cents at $47.95 a barrel.

"Oil prices have dropped approximately $60 since June 2014 due to increasing worldwide production and slow demand."

Iraq Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi was quoted by the news agency as saying that the country produced four million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in December, mainly due to higher output from its southern terminals and an increase in supply from the north.

Abdel Mehdi said Iraq plans to make a big increase in exports from the northern city of Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region, which would increase production to 600,000bpd from April.

Oil prices have dropped approximately $60 since June 2014 due to increasing worldwide production and slow demand.

Several analysts said oil prices gained some support from a decline in US drilling rigs.

Meanwhile, China is due to unveil its economic data this week. The country is expected to report its weakest economic growth for more than twenty years.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to launch a government bond-buying campaign, indicating further euro drops against the dollar as well as downward pressure on oil prices.