Oil prices rose this evening as the International Energy Agency said crude demand should grow at the end of this year and in 2010 as the global economy recovers.

Prices had fallen earlier in the day as the IEA also warned that current oil demand was 'in the doldrums' and forecast that prices would next year fail to rise much higher compared with current levels.

US crude climbed 20 cents to $71.89 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude gained 37 cents to $70.14.

Oil demand is firming but the global market is still weak, trapped by conflicting views about how a slow recovery from the global crisis will affect energy consumption next year, the International Energy Agency said.

Pointing to an oil price of about $75 a barrel next year, the IEA warned that immediate oil demand was 'in the doldrums'. But the rate at which demand was shrinking was 'clearly falling' and demand in the fourth quarter would probably show an increase over 12 months, it said.

Demand for oil has plunged amid the world economic downturn, the most severe since the 1930s. Oil prices tumbled from historic highs of more than $147 in July 2008 to about $32 in December because of the global recession but have since won back ground on recovery hopes.