TOKYO - Oil prices rose on Wednesday after Iraq's oil minister said OPEC and other crude producers were considering extending or even deepening a supply cut to curb a global glut, while a report showed a smaller-than-expected increase in U.S. inventories.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $49.78 a barrel at 0644 GMT. Brent crude futures climbed 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $55.37.
While options being considered by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers include an extension of cuts in output by months, it is premature to decide on what to do beyond March, when the agreement expires, Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi told an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
OPEC and producers including Russia have agreed to reduce output by about 1.8 million barrels per day until March 2018 in a bid to reduce global oil inventories and support prices.
Some producers think the pact should be extended for three or four months, others want an extension until the end of 2018, while some, including Ecuador and Iraq, think there should be another round of supply cuts, al-Luaibi said.
But such moves are unlikely to have a big impact, said Georgi Slavov, head of research at commodities brokerage Marex Spectron.
"Demand is not great for crude oil and I don't see how this will change any time soon. We do not see stronger demand for Q4 2017, which means supply needs to be controlled even more tightly," Slavov told a briefing in Singapore.
"That won't be easy as the productivity of oil rigs in the U.S. is expected to rise, so they can get more oil out of the same amount of rigs."
Meanwhile, U.S. crude stocks rose last week while gasoline and distillate stocks decreased, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.
Crude inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week to Sept. 15 to 470.3 million, compared with expectations for an increase of 3.5 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 422,000 barrels, API said.
Official figures on stockpiles and refinery runs will be released by the U.S. Department of Energy later on Wednesday.