The skid in oil prices in 2015 likely will not reverse until the middle of next year, when they slowly start to edge higher, according to one expert. Spencer Welch, a director at IHS Energy in London, expects oil prices to trade around $40 a barrel in the first half of next year before a slow recovery. Throughout much of 2015, prices sank to multi-year lows due to oversupply by OPEC, and Welch doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. 'We expect them to continue with that strategy, it seems to be working. They are protecting their market share,’ said Welch. ‘Some of the higher cost producers are starting to reduce their production slowly. It’s taking longer than expected, but we expect that to continue.’ The low prices have been a crushing blow to many oil producers, and Welch expects that will lead to more merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. ‘All oil producers, not just in the United States but around the world, are under pressure because of the low prices. So we do expect some merger activity,’ explained Welch. TheStreet's Rhonda Schaffler has details from New York.