Oil and gas futures dipped Monday but the relentless surge in energy prices is very likely to continue in the days and weeks ahead, according to Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer.
In fact, Gheit believes oil prices could go "much higher" — with Brent crude surging into the $160-$170 per barrel range vs. around $124 currently — in the not too distant future because of ongoing tensions with Iran. Such a surge would undoubtedly put further upward pressure on gasoline and other refined products. (See: The Looming Threat to Gas Prices: Strait of Hormuz Explained)
A supply disruption in the Strait of Hormuz is a "nightmare scenario" and the situation with Iran is "coming to a head," he tells Henry in the accompanying video. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. and its allies have been rising in recent weeks over concerns about Iran's nuclear capabilities. On Friday, the International Atomic Agency reported Iran has increased its production of enriched uranium, the latest in a series of events that have alarmed Western policymakers, most notably in Israel, about Iran's capacity to build nuclear weapons.
Like most energy experts, Gheit believes the threat of a supply disruption or related confrontation with Iran is a big reason oil prices have risen so sharply in recent months. Absent such concerns, Gheit estimates oil prices would be trading in the $75 to $80 per barrel range, based on supply and demand dynamics and the economics of drilling.
In addition, Gheit also lambastes Wall Street speculators for adding "at a minimum" $20 per barrel to the price of oil.
"Consumers pay for speculation, investment bankers profit from it," he says. "You cannot stamp out speculation. All financial institutions are very heavily involved. The federal government is unwilling or incapable of getting them out of this game."
While certain politicians and many ordinary Americans feel the same way, what's notable about Gheit's statements is that he works for a Wall Street firm which is presumably involved in such speculation on some level.