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Crude could fall to $55: Oppenheimer’s oil guru

Oppenheimer's expert on oil's next move
Oppenheimer's expert on oil's next move

Even after plunging almost 40 percent in five months, WTI crude oil prices will continue to fall in coming weeks, according to Oppenheimer senior energy analyst Fadel Gheit.

"Most likely this is not a bottom. Most likely we'll see oil prices going lower," Gheit said Tuesday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "The same traders and speculators that took oil prices from $95 to $70 will also be able to take oil prices from $70 to $60, or even $55."

Gheit said it's difficult to put a number on the bottom, because "once you get to a certain level you are going to see a lot of speculation. Speculation usually overheats oil prices on the way up, and really brings them down hard on the way down."

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Of course, that's not to say that there aren't fundamental reasons for oil's slide. OPEC's Thanksgiving decision not to cut output targets sent crude far lower. And indeed, Gheit noted that Saudi Arabia has less incentive to cut production than it used to, given that it would simply give U.S. shale oil producers an opportunity to take market share.

"This is a structural change the market hasn't really grasped yet," he said. "This time around, the shale production is here to stay, and OPEC will have to live with it. And oil prices will therefore be lower longer than most people think."

Still, with crude oil settling Tuesday at $66.88 per barrel, Gheit expects that any dip into the low $60s or high $50s will be "very short term," lasting "a week or two at the most."

Over the next year, Gheit expects that WTI crude will enjoy an average price of $70 to $72.

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