LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Oil steadied on Tuesday after a session of hefty gains on signals that the world’s biggest producers of crude may act jointly to support prices, which have more than halved over the past year.
Russia and Saudi Arabia discussed the oil market in a meeting last week, Russia’s energy minister said, echoing demands by OPEC’s secretary-general for all oil producers to work together to tackle a global surplus.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was trading 8 cents higher at $49.33 a barrel by 1008 GMT. It rose 2.3 percent on Monday.
The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, was 16 cents lower at $46.10 a barrel. The contract gained 1.6 percent in the previous session.
“The market is possibly moving on speculation that OPEC and non-OPEC countries will find an agreement to cooperate,” said Carsten Fritsch, senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said at a conference in London that OPEC and non-OPEC members should work together to reduce the global supply glut.
“There is one problem we are facing: the overhang,” he said.
He added that a $650 billion cut in upstream investments due to weak prices would soon reflect on the supply side and reduce production.
In a sign of falling exports, Iran’s crude oil sales were on track to slip to the lowest in seven months as its main Asian customers are buying less than before.
The drop counters expectations that Iran’s exports would rise after Tehran and six world powers reached a nuclear agreement on July 14, although sanctions are unlikely to be officially relaxed until next year.
Investors also awaited further signals from U.S. government data on crude inventories this week. Some analysts predicted the data would show further builds in crude stocks, putting oil prices under renewed pressure.
A Reuters poll on Monday indicated U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week for a second straight week, gaining 1.8 million barrels on average.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, which reports official storage data on Wednesday, said last week that inventories were up about 4 million barrels in the week to Sept. 25. (Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Dale Hudson)