Oil still under pressure, but bulls are on the run

The hunt for a crude oil bottom continues. But for now, at least, the bulls appear to have some wind at their backs.

A week after WTI crude oil fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, some oil industry stakeholders appear to be hard at work trying to find reasons why the worst is over for crude.

Over the course of the week, oil ministers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Nigeria have all been saying an OPEC production freeze—which may help stabilize prices—is likely.

In a Friday interview with CNBC's "Fast Money," Nigeria oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said that one a freeze has been initiated, "I'm certainly hoping from prices in the range of $45 to $50, that's what I'm putting my fingers on."

He intoned: "Is there a scientific basis for that? Probably not."

Read MoreOPEC Member: Production Freeze; $50 Oil is Coming

Never mind that Iran's oil minister called such a freeze a "joke." Even if it does happen, commitments on the part of certain countries to simply not produce more than they already do would be cold comfort for the oil bulls, given the global supply glut.

So how about a coordinated production cut — the sort of market-manipulating action that an organization like OPEC is arguably designed to take?

In Wednesday remarks, Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi dismissed such a step out of hand. "This is not going to happen because not many countries are going to deliver even if they say they will cut production," the official said. "So there is no sense in wasting our time seeking production cuts."

Read MoreSaudi oil minister Naimi: Oil production cuts won't happen

The lack of a synchronized message reinforced a belief among many market watchers that the formerly powerful cartel appears well past its prime. Oil trader Bob Iaccino of Path Trading Partners told CNBC that "OPEC essentially doesn't exist anymore."

In addition to the coordination issue, OPEC's power has been severely curtailed by the incredible growth of U.S. oil production.

"The U.S. is the marginal producer now, it's not OPEC," Iaccino said in a recent interview on CNBC's "Futures Now." He added: "It's not going to be OPEC that says we're boosting a hundred million barrels a day or cutting a million—it's the U.S."

Read MoreShort sellers hitting energy at near-crisis levels

Still, due to factors related to the seasonality of gasoline production, Iaccino does see crude oil finding a "medium-term bottom," and rising to $40 per barrel. That is more than $7 above Friday's settlement price. He doesn't see it getting much above $40, however.

That would still require a significant break of oil's recent trading range. Save a few high and low ticks, over the last several weeks WTI has appeared to have become comfortably ensconced between $29 on the downside and $36 on the upside.

Meanwhile, a look to the options market shows what a long-shot Iaccino's target is considered to be. The way the April crude oil option with a striking price of $40 is trading, the chance of oil finding itself above $40 when the April futures contract expires in late March is considered to be lower than 10 percent.

—By CNBC's Alex Rosenberg.

Watch "Futures Now" Tuesdays & Thursdays 1 p.m. ET exclusively on FuturesNow.CNBC.com!


  • Rates are entering a new phase in their cycle: Yamada

    Bonds are entering a new rising rates cycle for the first time in decades. Technician Louise Yamada explains what this means for the market.

  • What's next for the oil market?

    Following a recent correction, Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service tells CNBC's Jackie DeAngelis where crude is headed next.

  • Futures Now, February 15, 2018

    The market's coming back, but one trader isn't buying the bounce. Technician Louise Yamada says this is the next line in the sand for rates. And Oil's back at $60, but Tom Kloza, Oil Price Information Service, says the rally will stall, with CNBC's Jackie DeAngelis and the Futures Now traders.

Host Bio & Watch Now

Trader Bios