What rout? Oil on track for best month since 2009

We've cut investment in oil and gas: BASF boss
We've cut investment in oil and gas: BASF boss

Brent crude oil prices were poised on Friday for their biggest monthly gain since 2009, lifting the outlook for the battered commodity.

U.S. crude oil was set to end February with its first monthly rise in eight months, with signs of a pick-up in Chinese demand and supply outages in the North Sea lifting sentiment in oil markets.

Read More Brent rises above $61 a barrel

"Evidence suggests the worst is over for oil because prices have stabilised," said Neil Atkinson, head of analysis at Lloyd's List Intelligence. "However, there is an argument that we have paused on a long-term downtrend as these is an ongoing surplus of demand."

"It's still too early to declare victory for oil," he added.

Brent crude prices rose 2.3 percent on Friday to trade at around $61.42, while U.S. oil futures gained 2.2 percent to $49.24 per barrel.

Oil prices slid 60 percent between June and January, with Brent crude falling close to $45 a barrel, amid a weak recovery in the global economy and reluctance by oil-producing group the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production.

Maureen Sullivan | Moment Mobile| Getty Images

End of losing streak?

Still, Brent crude prices have rebounded almost 16 percent this month. Analysts say signs of recovery in global demand for oil, helped by the recent slide in prices, help explain the end to the losing streak.

"We've seen the bottom of the current cycle and prices should go higher through the year and in the short term," said Neil Beveridge, a senior oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, in Hong Kong.

"We still have an excess of oil supply but that will slow during the year. Also we're starting to see the green shoots of recovery, with stronger demand in China," he said, adding Brent crude should end the year at over $70 a barrel.

Implied oil demand in China is set to grow 3 percent this year, the country's leading energy group China National Petroleum Corp was reported by Reuters as saying on Friday. This is above a forecast of 2.5 percent from the International Energy Agency.

Read MoreWhy it pays to be cautious on oil

"It is true that global demand for oil has seen signs of life and outperformed what most economic models would suggest, but a large part of that strength is linked to the very low prices in January," said Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at Energy Analyst in London.

"The risk is that some of the strength will fade if prices recover. I think we will have a better year for demand growth than last year, but it's not yet looking like the kind of robust underlying demand growth that could drive a sustainable rise in prices," he said.

In short, Mallinson said, a risk of further sharp falls remained and that Brent crude could re-visit the $40 range.

Earnings hit

While the fall in oil prices has helped boost to global growth, the energy sector has been hit hard with company values slashed and billions of dollars' worth of exploration projects put at risk.

"What we've seen in 2015 is that the oil price is persistently low so we expect earnings in oil and gas to come down. And this will mean we will cut back on some of the investments in oil and gas," Kurt Bock, CEO of German chemicals firm BASF, told CNBC.

BASF generates about 38 percent of its cash flow from its oil and gas division.

"We see oil prices fluctuating between $60 and $70 for Brent in 2015. Beyond that, it has to go up if you want to drill for new exploration," Bock said.

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