Oil prices recovered to $75 a barrel in the US during the week ended 11 February, as harsh weather and higher demand increased prices.

The benchmark West Texas Intermediate contract for March was trading at $75 a barrel, down from $76.10 a barrel a week earlier but up from nearly $72 a barrel earlier in the week (MEED 4:2:10).

In Europe, the benchmark Brent contract for March was trading at $72.90 a barrel, down $2.20 from a week before but up from $70 a barrel earlier in the week.

Prices had been falling due to pessimism over the pace of recovery in the global economy, only recovering on 10 February after the US’ Energy Information Administration released data showing a fall in crude oil and petrol stocks.

Analysts attribute the fall in inventories to recent bad weather on the east coast of the US. Crude oil stocks fell by 1.4 million barrels to 78.25 million barrels in the week ended 4 February, while petrol inventories tumbled 6.6 million barrels to 189.4 million barrels.

However, the positive note was tempered by the international oil cartel Opec’s latest monthly report, released on 11 February, which forecast lower than expected growth in oil demand during 2010. The cartel believes demand will rise by 810,000 barrels a day (b/d), rather than the 820,000 b/d it forecast in January.