Oil prices continued their downward spiral Friday, falling more than $1, after a short-lived rally of around 5 percent the previous day, as concerns of a disruption to supplies in the Middle East appeared to ease. Against this backdrop, hedge fund managers said the oil price would remain volatile and could even fall as low as $30.
“I believe we have a chance to go down to $30 and then going back up towards $50 or so by the end of the year,” Pierre Andurand, who made his name and fortune in 2008 by predicting a sharp rise and collapse in oil prices, told CNBC.
Brent crude was at $58.15 a barrel Friday morning, down $1.22. Meanwhile, U.S. crude was down $1.06 at $50.37 a barrel, after dropping to a low of $50.25 earlier in the day.
Prices have been hit over the last 9 months by a continuing glut in supply and lack of demand. In the last few days, however, investors have become more jittery after a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against a rebel uprising in Yemen, which could impact the region’s oil industry.
“It’s going to be hard to call because markets will remain volatile,” Andurand, managing partner and chief information officer of fund management firm Andurand Capital.
Middle East turmoil
Escalating political turmoil in the Middle East that could affect oil supplies was something to watch closely, Andurand warned, and was likely to keep markets volatile.
“You can see the situation in the Middle East is very complicated and can change any day. So we can lose a lot of supplies in some countries in the Middle East. So it’s something to follow very closely.”
More volatility is the last thing oil markets need with the last nine months proving something of a rollercoaster for the commodity. Since last June, the oil has price has fallen by more than 50 percent from a high of $114.
Exacerbating matters has been the refusal of the Saudi-led Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut production as it seeks to retain market share in the face of growing competition from shale oil producers in the U.S.
There was not much chance of Saudi Arabia reversing its position any time soon, Andurand said “I don’t expect a shift from the Saudis. They have a $750 billion in foreign reserves so they can withstand lower prices for longer than anybody else. I think it would be a mistake if they stopped now, it would mean that no one would take them seriously next time and it would only encourage more non-OPEC supply growth.”
Oil will recover
Others in the hedge fund industry were also convinced oil markets could be in for a turbulent time, too but several thought prices would recover in the longer-term.
Mark Swain, a partner at Smith & Williamson, told CNBC Thursday that the “biggest risk is probably the oil price” and that he was concerned about it.
“It’s taken a huge fall. It’s very volatile…Is it going back to 80 dollars or 90 dollars? Not even the commodities expert can tell me that, so that’s something I worry about because I can’t predict it,” he said, also speaking to CNBC at the Investors Choice Awards in London.
Not everyone was convinced that oil was heading only in one direction, however. Richard Haworth, co-founder, chief executive and chief information officer of volatility hedge fund 36 South Capital Advisors, said that although “in the short to medium-term it may go lower, I think in the longer term, we’ll see higher commodity prices across the board.”
Michael Yoshikami, founder and chief executive of Destination Wealth Management, was in agreement, telling CNBC that while oil prices were likely to fall in the short-term, they would recover.”Oil prices in the long term are going to go up. Are they going to go down in the short-term? I believe they are, to be more specific I think they’re going to go down because of storage issues. There’s just not enough storage for the oil but then I think oil will rally and will perhaps rally back to the $50-$60 barrel range,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box” Friday.