Oil prices rose in choppy Asian trade on Thursday in a market plagued by weak energy demand reflected in new US data that showed surging crude stockpiles.
New York’s main futures contract,light sweet crude for delivery in March,gained 17 cents to USD 36.11 a barrel.
The contract is nearing five-year lows of USD 32.20 hit on December 18.
Brent North Sea crude for March climbed 37 cents to USD 44.65.
“Basically from a fundamental point of view,I cannot see a strong market… because demand is not strong,” said Ken Hasegawa,manager of the energy desk at Newedge Japan brokerage.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) said in its weekly report yesterday that American crude stockpiles soared by 4.7 million barrels in the week ending February 6. That was higher than market expectations of a 3.0-million-barrel gain.
The industrialised nations’ energy watchdog,the International Energy Agency (IEA),yesterday again cut its forecast for global oil demand this year.
It predicted that demand would measure 84.7 million barrels per day (bpd) on average in 2009 — 570,000 bpd less than its last forecast made in January.
At this level,demand would be 1.1 per cent or 1.0 million bpd less than in 2008,when demand also fell compared with the year earlier.