That's a view shared by Robert McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group and author of "Crude Volatility," a history of oil market spikes and crashes. In McNally's view, the market is locked in a period of boom and bust that started in 2003, when a confluence of factors ended a period of relative stability for oil prices.
One of his core arguments is that there's essentially no one behind the wheel of the oil market. The 15-nation oil cartel OPEC will periodically cut or boost output in times of emergency, but its de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has not actively managed the market since 1985, he says.
That played a major role in the 2014 oil price crash. Right before the downturn, forecasters wrongly assumed OPEC would throttle back production as output from U.S. shale fields started to exceed expectations and oil demand unexpectedly softened.
While Saudi Arabia initially refused to cut output, oil's plunge from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to less than $30 in 2016 sparked another major change in oil markets. Saudi Arabia and OPEC partnered with Russia and other producers beginning in 2017 to prop up prices by cutting production.
Some now believe the group will fill the long vacant role of market manager, but McNally is skeptical the alliance will last.
"The jury remains out on whether this new Saudi-Russian led entity will prove to be a successful long-term supply manager or instead join the list of ad hoc, temporary cartels formed after price busts but that dissolved afterward," McNally said in written testimony for a recent Congressional hearing on oil price volatility.