Get used to paying less at the gas pump. Oil prices are expected to stay at their currently low levels, and possibly even drop further, due to a "perfect storm" of risk factors, analysts say.
Oil prices continued to flirt with yearlong lows Monday. November Brent crude futures were down about 1.7 percent to trade near $88.50. WTI crude oil also dropped, albeit by a less dramatic amount, to near $85.49.
Those decreases may only be the beginning though, according to analysts. Dan Stober, a managing director and partner at HighTower Bellevue, said the market could see oil prices come as low as the mid-70s in the next few months.
Richard Hastings of Global Hunter Securities also said prices could fall lower from their current levels, but that they will likely stabilize around their current range.
"It's very possible a few trading days where some trade takes place at below $80 a barrel," said Hastings, a macro strategist.
It has taken a multitude of factors, all emerging around the same time, to create the volatility investors currently witness in the market, Hastings said. And it's precisely because of the complexity of all those risk factors that oil is expected to remain at lower prices for months.
"You're looking at a lot of supply in a world that has a flat demand story," he said.
Much of flat demand stems from worries of a recession in Europe and a slowdown in China. The euro zone is combating longstanding economic problems that have left it on the brink of another economic crisis. Meanwhile, growth in China has begun to lag, which is expected to reduce its thirst for crude.
"In a slowdown, it's just natural that consumers would consume less," said Lars Knudsen, also a managing director and partner with HighTower Bellevue. "Even with lower oil prices, if unemployment is at 20 percent in Spain, those people are going to drive less and going to spend less. The same thing goes with China."
Meanwhile, low demand for oil is being met by exorbitant supply. U.S. production of crude remains at all-time highs, which previously was of little consequence but now compounds the problem seen in the crude market. Simultaneously, political conditions have improved in Libya, allowing for oil production to ramp up in earnest for the first time since the start of the country's civil.
Russia also plays the role of a spoiler when it comes to global crude supplies. Given the economic turmoil Russia has experienced due to its involvement in Ukraine, some analysts believe Moscow may cash in on its stores of oil to help keep the country's economy afloat.
Normally, high oil supplies would push OPEC and other oil producing countries to cut production. Yet, recent reports suggest OPEC nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, are willing to keep prices low if that increases demand.
"They have expectations of income," Knudsen said. "So they have increased production to keep their heads above water."
When will prices go up?
Even with the confluence of factors pushing prices down, however, it won't be that way for much longer than a few months—in large part because of the approach of colder weather.
"Winter fuel demand will soon kick in," Hastings said. "And it does greatly improve the demand for fuels, reduce fuel stockpiles and in turn stabilize oil prices."
It's also unlikely all of OPEC will go the same route that some see Saudi Arabia taking—eventually some of these nations will need to cut production so that prices can return to profitable levels.
Also, consumer sentiment should rise as gasoline prices fall, trigger improvements in the household sector and consumer spending.
"When you're paying less at the pump it good for the consumer," Stober said.
And there's always ISIS. Tensions in the Middle East due to the expanding terrorist group could easily cause the same jolt to oil prices that the market saw earlier this year, particularly if ISIS were to establish itself in Baghdad and Basra—vital cities for Iraq's oil industry, Hastings said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Mr. Stober's name.