Oil prices have risen above $30 a barrel today, lifted by hopes that OPEC and non-OPEC producers may be edging closer to a deal to tackle one of the biggest supply surpluses in decades.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is making renewed calls for rival producers to cut supply alongside its members, but Russia has so far refused to cooperate.
Brent crude LCOc1 was up 37 cents to $30.87 a barrel, recovering from an earlier decline as it reached $27.10, its lowest since November 2003, on Jan. 20; Meanwhile, US crude CLc1 was up 34 cents at $30.68.
“Without a production agreement, fundamentals point to lower numbers. However, with one, oil becomes a $40-to-$60-a-barrel market”, said David Hufton of oil brokers PVM.
Demand concerns limited the rally since China’s annual rail freight volume fell 11.9 percent in 2015 versus a drop of 3.9 percent in 2014, adding up to worries about contracting economic activity in the second-largest oil consumer.
“Fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth, particularly in China, are dragging down global stock markets from arguably overheated levels”, analysts at Energy Aspects said in a report.
Despite price collapse and spending cutbacks across much of the industry, major OPEC producers are sticking to investment plans and some intend to boost supply.
Investors are now watching the US Federal Reserve policy meeting starting later in the day, the first since the central bank raised interest rates in December, for clues on the movement of the dollar.
Underlining the surplus, analysts expect the latest weekly reports on US supplies to show crude inventories, already close to a record high, rise further.