Oil prices recovered from recent declines on pressure from oil labor strikes in Kuwait, though economic and production pressures pulled on Tuesday’s rally.
Oil prices were off as much as 7 percent before the start of Monday trading in New York after talks between major oil states in Doha collapsed without an agreement on how best to handle the market downturn. Producers had considered freezing output at January levels, though Saudi Arabia said no deal was possible without Iran, which said it won’t make any considerations until it regains its market footing.
Monday’s downturn was offset by the start of a strike in Kuwait’s energy sector, which cut production by as much as 60 percent. Officials there said Tuesday some production had returned, though it was still about 40 percent below last month’s levels.
The price for Brent crude oil moved up by 0.6 percent at the start of trading in New York to $43.18 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price, moved higher by 0.3 percent to $39.89 per barrel.
Crude oil prices are lower because supplies outweigh demand as the global economy is slow to recover from the last recessionary cycle. Valdis Dombrovskis, the vice president for the European Commission, said at economic meetings in the United States that some regional growth was expected, but it would be slow.
“The risks are on the downside,” he said. “Potential growth is expected to remain weak, as a result of crisis legacies, aging effects, and slow total factor productivity growth.”
On the supply side, Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it started production from its Julia project in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A second well should start production in the next few weeks. The company said the initial development phase has a design capacity of about 34,000 barrels of oil per day and drill ships are already on tap for additional wells next year.
The Gulf of Mexico is on pace to account for about 20 percent of total U.S. crude oil production next year. Declines from inland shale basins could be offset by gains in the Gulf of Mexico in part because the offshore areas are less sensitive to short-term volatility in crude oil prices.