DUBAI — Oil won't be returning to the peak levels it saw last year when global benchmark Brent crude hit $86 a barrel, Goldman Sachs' top commodities analyst said Monday.
"We've had a really bad fourth quarter, so the question is 'how much have we recouped thus far?'" Jeff Currie, Goldman Sachs' head of commodities research, told CNBC's Dan Murphy at the 27th Annual Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference in Dubai.
"Looking at oil more broadly... We don't think you're going to get back to those $80 levels again, so you've got some modest upside here."
"It's been a fundamental deficit, lower inventories pushing cash in physical prices higher," Currie said. "This market is in a million barrel per day deficit right now, and we think upside price is $70 to $75 (per barrel), but the back end anchored around $60," he said."
That back end low, he explained, is based on three things: expansion of pipelines in Texas's shale-rich Permian Basin in the third quarter of this year, OPEC potentially exiting its oil cut program because investments are likely to reach the five-year average sometime in May, and more supply coming in from non-OPEC members.
"That's what is going to keep the back end under pressure, lower inventories pushing prices to $70, to $75, that's where the investment opportunity is — but it's not going to be like what we saw in quarters three or four of last year."