DALLAS—While multiple variables are typical in many commodity forecasts, the current outlook for oil carries a much greater risk than usual of being whipsawed in one direction or another. What will prove to be the greatest force? Will it be tit-for-tat tariffs in a trade war? Or maybe geopolitical risks, fundamental factors or a tightening of the diesel market?

“There is an unbelievable amount of uncertainty in this market,” said Ed Morse, global head of commodity research for Citigroup, at Hart Energy’s recent A&D Strategies and Opportunities conference.

The oil market’s uncertainty is reflected in Citi’s multi-scenario outlook, in which “near-term risks are skewed to the upside, but longer-term to the downside.” For example, Citi’s base case forecasts Brent averaging $79 per barrel (bbl) in the fourth quarter of this year—and thus moving up to more than $80 at times in the quarter—but then sliding down to average $62/bbl in the fourth quarter of next year.

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