Oil rose above $47 a barrel on Tuesday after reports Saudi Arabia was largely maintaining its supply curbs to Asia and Europe and as analysts expected a drop in U.S. crude inventories.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets in Vienna on March 15 to decide whether to cut production further to support oil prices that have fallen from a record high of almost $150 last year.
OPEC's largest producer, Saudi Arabia, notified customers of largely steady supplies for April from March, traders said on Tuesday, a day after a Saudi-owned newspaper said the world's top exporter wanted stricter compliance with existing curbs before considering more cuts.
U.S. crude rose 50 cents to $47.57 by 1210 GMT (8:10 a.m. EDT), having gained more than 3 percent on Monday. London Brent was up 85 cents at $44.98.
Oil traders and analysts said Saudi Arabia appeared to be hinting that there would be no change in production quotas at the Vienna OPEC meeting.
This is evidence that OPEC is not going to cut, said Sintje Diek, oil analyst at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg. Nevertheless, I would not completely exclude that they will announce another production cut on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia has yet to say publicly what OPEC should do and the group's Angolan president, in a statement on Tuesday, said OPEC was ready to take appropriate decisions to balance the oil market.
OPEC has already promised to cut 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of production from its output levels since September.
Compliance with existing curbs is very high at more than 80 percent, according to independent observers, but that still leaves room for more discipline.
Dealers were also looking ahead to weekly U.S. oil stocks data from the American Petroleum Institute and Energy Information Administration expected to show another fall in crude inventories.
Industry group the API will release at 2030 GMT (4:30 p.m. EDT) its weekly U.S. stocks data, which analysts forecast would show a 400,000-barrel decline in crude stocks as inventories fall further.
Last week, crude stocks fell by an unexpected 700,000 barrels, the EIA reported. Analysts polled also expected an 800,000 barrel fall in gasoline inventories and a 200,000 barrel rise in distillates stocks.
The EIA will release its weekly data on Wednesday.
Before then, the EIA will release later on Tuesday its monthly short-term energy outlook, which will likely contain a cut in its demand forecast.
The EIA's forecast is the first of three widely watched reports on world petroleum use to be released this week. The EIA has lowered its estimate for 2009 global oil demand in 10 out of its last 13 monthly forecasts.
(Additional reporting by Maryelle Demongeot in Singapore; editing by Anthony Barker)