Oil and Gas

Oil becoming a bit of a death spiral: Strategist

Commodities crush, a tough market for oil

While oil prices continue to fall, U.S. production hasn't rolled over and OPEC countries have actually raised production—and that isn't good news for the market, strategist Helima Croft said Thursday.

"It's becoming a bit of a death spiral," the head of commodity strategy for RBC Capital Markets told "Closing Bell."

Saudi Arabia has upped its production by almost a million barrels since November and Iraq has also added close to a million barrels, she said.

The sun sets over an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia.
Pete Turner | Riser | Getty Images

At OPEC's meeting in June, there was an anticipation of a demand-driven recovery, Croft said.

"If they are all going to overproduce into what they see is a rising demand environment, they are going to ensure that that does not happen," she said. "This confidence game that OPEC talked in June is not materializing. I do think there is going to be pressure within that cartel to relook at the policy."

US oil settles down at $44.66 a barrel, a fresh March low

She believes it comes down to how much pain Saudi Arabia is willing to endure, noting that the country needs $100 oil to fund its social programs.

And while sustained low oil prices may cause shareholder revolt in the United States, it could cause real unrest in other parts of the world, said Croft.

"The question is, at what point does a population get restive. I think Venezuela is reaching a tipping point. I would argue some of the other producers—Nigeria, Algeria—they are getting closer to tipping points."

Wealthier Gulf states are in better position, with Saudi Arabia somewhere in the middle, she added.

U.S. crude futures closed down 1 percent at $44.66 a barrel on Thursday, a fresh March low. were slightly up at $49.70 per barrel, after setting a six-month low at $48.88.

—Reuters contributed to this report.