Oil prices rose Wednesday on bargain-hunting after sliding to near six-year lows a day earlier, while Iraq claimed the market was set to recover after recent heavy falls.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery March climbed 50 cents to stand at $48.49 a barrel in London midday deals.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March won 22 cents to $46.69 a barrel compared with Tuesday's close.
The February contract expired on Tuesday at $46.39, down $2.30 from the day before and not far from its lowest level since March 2009.
Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Wednesday predicted that world prices would not fall much further after a plunge of nearly 60 percent since June.
"Our estimate is that the prices have reached the bottom. It is very difficult to drop lower than this," Abdul Mahdi told a conference in Kuwait.
"We do not find any real justification for the big and persistent drop in oil prices," said the Iraqi minister whose country is the second largest OPEC producer after Saudi Arabia.
But non-OPEC oil producer Oman described as bad politics and bad business the cartel's November decision to make no cut in output, which sent world prices crashing along with other factors, such as weak demand and oversupply.
Oman, a Saudi neighbour which has been badly hit by the resulting loss in revenue, said it saw no logic in the move.
"I fail to comprehend how market share became more important than revenue," Omani Oil and Gas Minister Mohamed al-Rumhi told the Kuwait conference on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia had said the decision was necessary to prevent the cartel losing market share after a sharp increase in US shale oil production.
Rumhi said that before the decision, with oil trading at $100 a barrel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was earning $3.0 billion a day from its output of 30 million barrels per day.
"When earnings dropped to $2.9 billion, $2.8 billion, they got up to defend market share ... and as a result, revenues dropped to roughly $1.5 billion," the Omani minister said.
"This is politics that I don't understand. Business? This is not business."
Analysts meanwhile do not expect Wednesday's rebound in prices to last.
"Oil prices will likely remain at a low level this week once this period of bargain hunting is over," Tetsu Emori, commodity fund manager with Astmax Investments in Tokyo, told AFP.
The International Monetary Fund this week cut its forecast for global economic growth this year, citing weaker momentum in nearly all leading economies but the United States.
The IMF said in a report that poorer prospects in China, Russia, the euro area and Japan would hold world growth to just 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2016.