Croft noted that Saudi Arabia's energy minister has been promoting the deal, and she has said it's in the kingdom's interest to have oil trade above $50 per barrel because of its efforts to makeover its economy and plan to float stock in its state-owned oil company next year. It was Saudi Arabia's differences with Iran that foiled a deal last spring. "It's striking to me that Khalid Al-Falih twice in the last week came and talked about the importance of getting this done," said Croft.
Oil prices have been rising and falling on the prospects of the deal, and this week an agreement looked more promising. West Texas Intermediate crude futures closed at $45.69 per barrel Friday, up more than 5 percent for the week.
However, it is questionable how much impact an agreement would actually have on prices.
"These guys are working the newswires like crazy. The Russian minister is on the wires every day talking up the prospects for a deal," said John Kilduff of Again Capital. "I think the market is going to see right through this deal. It's not going to be good for them. They'll be scrambling again."
Weafer is less optimistic than other analysts about the shape of the deal, and he expects it to end up just being a freeze at high levels, rather than a cut that puts production more in line with demand.
"The big elephant in the room in these discussions is U.S. shale. It's perfectly well understood that if the price of oil goes higher than the mid $50s, then that will almost certainly bring more U.S. shale back onto the market and increase the supply problem ... and therefore leave the oil price vulnerable to a collapse back into the $40s rather than the high $50s or $60 in 2017," he said.
Analysts said the biggest cuts would have to come from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Nigeria and Libya are wild cards in that they would both like to return more crude to the market, but it's unclear how much they will be able to do that. Libya has said it sees output rising to 900,000 barrels a day. They are also among the countries seeking exemptions from the deal. Iraq and Iran have also sought exemptions.