Oil rebounded in Asian trade Thursday on hopes for a US intervention to end a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
Analysts said however that gains are likely to be limited as demand struggles because of business shutdowns, the grounding of air travel and other social distancing measures put in place to contain the outbreak.
In morning Asian trade, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading 3.25 percent higher at $20.97 a barrel.
International benchmark Brent crude advanced 3.8 percent to $25.68 a barrel.
Both benchmarks fell to their lowest levels in 18 years on Monday, with WTI briefly dipping below $20 a barrel.
“Oil prices are higher on news that President (Donald) Trump will hold a round table discussion with the country’s top oil executives,” said AxiCorp global market strategist Stephen Innes.
The meeting is “presumably to discuss possible coordinated production curtailment measures in an attempt to buy some time for the struggling US shale industry,” he said in a note.
Innes said that Trump’s “acknowledging of the problems in the oil patch is critical” as he could be instrumental in resolving the price war that has led to the supply glut.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, on Wednesday ramped up its price war with Russia, boosting crude oil supply to record levels.
State giant Aramco offered 18.8 million barrels on a single day despite pressure from Washington.
ANZ Bank said US crude prices were also being supported by reports that the US energy department might rent space in the country’s emergency oil reserves to local producers.
“This would help drillers store excess crude,” it said.