Oil rose for the second time in three days as investors weighed a projected decline in U.S. crude stockpiles against signs that Iraq is joining other OPEC members in defending market share.

West Texas Intermediate futures advanced as much as 0.8 percent in New York. Inventories in the U.S., the worlds largest consumer, probably dropped for a second week through Dec. 19, a Bloomberg News survey showed before government data tomorrow. Iraq plans to boost output next year as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries refuse to cede market position, Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said.

Oil is heading for the largest annual drop since 2008 as the U.S. pumps crude at record levels amid signs of weakening demand. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reiterated pledges to keep producing at the same rate, blaming non-OPEC suppliers for the glut thats led to the collapse in prices.

WTI for February delivery climbed as much as 43 cents to $55.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $55.36 at 10:55 a.m. in Sydney. The contract slid $1.87 to $55.26 yesterday. The volume of all futures traded was about 79 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 44 percent this year.

Brent for February settlement dropped $1.27, or 2.1 percent, to $60.11 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange yesterday. The European benchmark crude ended the session at a premium of $4.85 to WTI.

OPEC doesnt intend to cut supply œwhatever the price is, Saudi Arabias Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in an interview with the Middle East Economic Survey.

Source : Bloomberg