The plunge in oil prices is "completely disconnected" from what makes any sense economically, and there's no telling how low crude can go, an influential analyst told CNBC on Tuesday.
Stephen Schork, founder and editor of The Schork Report newsletter, said he had thought last month that the $70 to $75 a barrel price range for oil in the U.S. would hold. "It did not," he added in a "Squawk Box" interview. "As soon as it broke, I had to position myself for lower prices. And I'm still positioning for lower prices."
"How low can we go? We are beyond the point of economics … completely disconnected from that because as we've seen with the ruble and as we've seen with the demand issues elsewhere, there's no telling," Schork said, putting the next target for WTI crude at $52 and the one below that at $42. "Will we get there? Absolutely."
Oil prices continued lower in early trading Tuesday, with U.S. crude hitting lows of about $54 not seen since early May 2009, as global currency turmoil and slowing Chinese factory activity added to concerns about demand. In mid-June, oil settled at a high of $106.86 a barrel.
"What is this price decline telling us? Commodity prices don't drive economies. economies drive commodity prices," Schork said. "The United States is the only shining light out there economically. But with a rising dollar at a five-year high ... who are we going to sell our manufacturing exports to?"
"No one can tell you where this [oil] market is going," he continued. "It could have already bottomed or we could still be heading another $15. And that's the scary thing about this. This is 2009 all over again."
Pavel Molchanov, oil analyst at Raymond James, described what happened then and how it relates to current conditions. "As we saw at the beginning of 2009 when oil very briefly touched $30—near-term [here] anything can happen—but let's remember 2009 prices bounced to $60 within a couple of weeks."
The plunge in crude has wreaked havoc on the Russia's oil-dependent economy and in turn its currency, which continued to collapse despite the central bank there hiking interest rates by 6.5 percentage points to 17 percent. The ruble sank as much as 18 percent early Tuesday after suffering its worst session in 15 years on Monday. The Russian stock market also dropped sharply in dollar terms Tuesday. But with the depreciation of the ruble, Russian stocks were higher in ruble terms.
"Forty dollar oil would be lethal to a lot players in the global oil industry in the United States, in Canada, in Brazil, in Russia, and frankly more than half the OPEC countries," Molchanov said. That's why he feels that prices cannot stay at $60 a barrel on a permanent basis. He added that he sees oil in the "bottoming process" right now.