Oil prices steadied on Thursday, but remained near 12-year lows on the prospect of Iran unleashing its oil on an oversupplied market and with few signs of improving demand in a fragile global economy.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, traded at $30.78 a barrel, up 47 cents day on day, at 1331 GMT. It fell earlier to $29.73, the weakest since February 2004.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 40 cents at $30.88 a barrel.
“With no apparent signs of strengthening demand, and only further indicators of future global supply growth, the outlook for oil prices is leading most market watchers to ratchet down estimates for oil prices in 2016 and 2017,” analysts at Cenkos Natural Resources said.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog is likely to confirm on Friday that Iran has curtailed its nuclear program as agreed with world powers, paving the way for sanctions to be lifted.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said the core of its Arak nuclear reactor had been removed. U.N. inspectors are set to visit the site on Thursday to verify the move crucial to the implementation of the deal with world powers.
Barclays said it had raised its estimates of Iranian oil supply on western sanctions being lifted sooner than expected. Analysts at the bank said they now assume that Iran will produce almost 700,000 barrels a day more in the fourth quarter of 2016 than over the same period in 2015.