The price of a barrel of oil would be closer to $10 if the commodity wasn't traded as an investment instrument, given the record-high levels of U.S. oil inventories, Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover, told CNBC Monday.
"I honestly think that if there were no investors using oil as an asset that the price of oil right now would be $10 or $15 or $18, but it wouldn't be anywhere near where it is," Beutel said.
"We have so much oil right now, more than we've had in 27 years. Why is it 27 years? Because that's how far our records go back. It's probably the most in 50 or 100 years," he added.
Part of the reason the price of oil is currently above $74 a barrel is because of a belief in the economic recovery, Beutel said.
Comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke over the weekend gave the commodity a boost as he signalled a willingness to support the fragile economic recovery with additional policy measures.
From a historical perspective, Beutel pointed out that the current level of inventories is even higher than when the price of oil was below $20 a barrel.
"We've got 50 million barrels of crude more than we had two years ago. We have 176 million of distillate," Beutel said. "When I started in the business back in 1980 we used to think to ourselves: "Gee, we would love it if we had 140 million barrels of distillates to start the winter."
Not all market watchers agree that the price of oil should or will go lower. Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services, told CNBC that he thinks oil will rise to between $82 and $85 a barrel.