Futures Now

Oil could soon see $50 – here’s why: RBC analyst

Where will Oil move ahead of an April meeting?

Oil hit its lowest level in nearly a month last week, but one of Wall Street's top commodities analysts says a recovery is on the way in 2016.

On CNBC's "Futures Now", global head of commodities strategy at RBC Capital Markets Helima Croft predicted that oil will rebound following a scheduled meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members on April 17th in the Qatari capital.

"We spent an entire year with [Saudi Arabia and Russia] saying everything was fine," explained Croft.

"Their decision to come out and even mention a freeze was a catalyst for the rally" that recently pulled crude to within view of $40, Croft said. "As we look towards the April 17 meeting, I don't think Saudi Arabia would even show up in Doha if there wasn't going to be an agreement."

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A worker adjusts the valve of an oil pipe at West Qurna oilfield in Iraq's southern province of Basra.
Atef Hassan | Reuters

Speculation over a potential accord between cartel members has whipsawed global energy markets. According to a statement from Qatari energy minister Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, approximately 15 producers representing 73 percent of global oil output will meet to discuss the possibility of a production freeze. For now, Iran remains the OPEC wild card, because Tehran is seeking an increase of exports following the lifting of sanctions earlier this year.

However, oil analysts say the market remains oversupplied, keeping a cap on crude prices. Croft told CNBC that could easily change if the world's largest oil producer takes action in the near term.

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"If Saudi Arabia freezes at their January levels, and that holds through the summer, that's an effective cut of several hundred thousands of barrels a day," noted Croft.

In terms of gauging the market, Croft sees a "quiet period" taking effect, wherein U.S. oil, or West Texas Intermediate, will likely slip to $35 ahead of the meeting.

"In the next couple of weeks, we think [oil prices] will drift a little bit lower," she said. "We've had so much short-covering and I don't think there's very much left of that [since] we remain over-supplied and the fundamentals remain soft," said Croft.

In the long-term, Croft noted that getting oil back to $50 per barrel will take time, but is doable assuming major producers continue to struggle with their supplies.

"We still expect a recovery to $50" by the fourth quarter, the analyst said. "One thing we are watching is mounting supply disruptions coming out of places like Nigeria and Northern Iraq. If those continue to mount [that could] bring the re-balance into Q3. So we are watching those supply outages. If that eats into our overhang, [we may] get a recovery in Q3 to the 50's as opposed to Q4."

From there, Croft added that the move from $50 to $60 per barrel will be harder, because of the need to work off the inventory, which is typically a slower process.