March 17, 2020 / 8:03 AM / in 2 months

UPDATE 5-Oil near $30 as recession fears, pump war weigh

* Brent falls back after rising 4%

* President Trump says U.S. could be heading for recession

* Saudi Arabia expected to keep oil output high in May

* U.S. crude inventories expected to rise for eighth week (Updates prices, adds quote)

By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alex Lawler

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Oil traded near $30 a barrel on Tuesday, close to its lowest since 2016, and analysts said more declines may follow as the coronavirus pandemic hits demand and Saudi Arabia and Russia battle for market share.

Countries including the United States and Canada, along with nations in Europe and Asia, are taking unprecedented steps to contain the virus, curbing demand for crude and products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

Brent crude slipped 5 cents to $30.00 a barrel at 1157 GMT, having earlier touched $31.25. On Monday it sank to $29.45, the lowest since January 2016.

"Unfortunately for the bulls, we believe we have not seen the worst of the price rout yet," said Bjornar Tonhaguen of Rystad Energy."

"The market will soon come to realize that the it may be facing one of the largest supply surpluses in modern oil market history in April."

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude reversed most of an earlier 4.7% gain to stand at $29.16.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Monday that the United States may be heading into recession as economic activity across the globe slowed and stock markets tumbled.

The United States has said it will take advantage of low oil prices to fill its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Other countries and companies are planning similar measures to fill storage tanks.

Attention will focus later on U.S. inventory reports that are expected to show crude inventories rising for an eighth straight week.

The American Petroleum Institute releases its supply report at 2030 GMT and government inventory data is due to be published on Wednesday.

Despite the loss of oil demand because of the global spread of the virus, Saudi Arabia and Russia are embroiled in a price war instigated after failing to agree to extend supply curbs to support the market.

Saudi Aramco has said it is likely to carry over its planned higher oil output for April into May and that it is "very comfortable" with an oil price of $30 a barrel.

"There is still every sign of a price war on the oil market," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

"If the announced production increases are actually implemented, the price risks plunging further towards the $20 mark." (Additional reporting by Seng Li Peng, Aaron Sheldrick and Alex Lawler; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, David Goodman and Louise Heavens)

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