Oil was mixed in Asia Wednesday, with prices lingering at their lowest levels in five and a half years on fears of fresh global turmoil over a political crisis in Greece, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery rose 11 cents to $48.04, while Brent crude for February fell two cents to $51.08 in late morning trade.
"Rumours of a Greek exit from the eurozone, with others likely to follow, is likely to further stall demand for oil," said Shailaja Nair, associate editorial director at energy information provider Platts.
Global markets have been spooked by jitters Greece could exit the eurozone if an anti-austerity opposition party wins a general election on January 25.
Analysts have warned a victory for the far-left Syriza party could see them tear up stringent measures required under a bailout deal for the country arranged by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, a move that could lead it out of the currency bloc.
A weekend report in Germany's Der Spiegel quoted Berlin sources as saying they consider Greece's exit "almost inevitable" if Syriza wins.
Analysts say there are concerns that bigger economies also facing economic woes like Spain and Italy could follow suit and exit the eurozone.
Nair said prices are expected to remain low as a global supply glut shows no sign of abating in the face of waning demand.
"Saudi Arabia has shown no indication that it will cut production while the demand for oil from China, India and the eurozone has remained low," she said.
Crude has lost over half of its value since June owing to an oversupply of the commodity and slowing growth in major world economies which has hurt demand.