Traders are worried that Iran will put pressure on crude if it begins selling oil into an already oversupplied market, but rising geopolitical risks could push prices higher, Helima Croft, chief commodities strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said on Monday.
Croft made her comments as Saudi Arabia engaged in a fifth day of attacks on neighboring Yemen, and following an announcement by Arab countries that they would form a regional army led by Egypt and the Saudis.
"I think if we had no geopolitical risk in the oil market, then you could really be talking about a moderated price. The Middle East still remains such an important production zone, and when you have stories about the Saudis putting new troops around oil facilities, the Kuwaitis bolstering security at oil facilities," she told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"If you have one significant event in one of these countries, Iraq for example, that would push prices higher. We're not entirely free from our dependence on Middle Eastern oil for the markets," Croft added.
Oil prices have been under pressure as the market anticipates international negotiators reaching an accord with Iran over that country's nuclear program. Such a deal would pave the way for the United States and the United Nations to lift sanction on Iran, allowing the country to resume oil exports.
Croft said the market is getting ahead of itself in believing an Iran deal is done and questioned whether the country could actually put a million barrels of oil into the market if allowed to do so.
Negotiators remained at odds over the weekend over the types of centrifuges Iran would be able to use to enrich uranium as part of a deal. And on Sunday, the New York Times reported Iranians were walking back an earlier commitment to ship its uranium stockpiles to Russia, a key bargaining chip.
Croft noted that Yemen is just one of four Middle Eastern nations involved in "active fighting," and called that country's conflict "the mother of all proxy wars with Iran."
Sunni-controlled Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran are two of the predominant powers in the region. Analysts and diplomats differ on the degree to which Iran is supporting Yemen.
The Nigerian elections that kicked off this past weekend are also important because tension there has disrupted up to 850,000 barrels of physical oil supply in the past, she said. Rivers state, one of Nigeria's key oil producing regions, saw some of the most volatility this weekend, she added.
Traders are currently placing almost no premium on geopolitical risks to oil, Croft said.
The market is currently oversupplied with about 1.5 million barrels of oil. The cost of benchmark Brent crude is down roughly 50 percent from its high in June.