NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Oil has found a fairly uneasy equilibrium here at $60 a barrel. It's not high enough to inspire confident investment in the oil space, nor is it low enough to generate the consolidation needed to clear out the weakest producers and create remaining value in oil stocks. For now, the investment watchword is: Wait.
Since the fall of oil from nearly $100 a barrel in 2014 to the lows nearer to $40 a barrel, oil has rallied to stand near $60 a barrel for more than six weeks -- a strange place for oil prices to stop. But there are equally conflicting fundamentals working on oil here and they've conspired to create equal pressure for now.
On the negative side for oil. OPEC members continue to pump at well over quotas and far more than global demand dictates. Both Iran and Libya are poised to add even more oil to the global supply chain soon. U.S. producers are also still estimated to increase their production by more than a million barrels a day compared to 2014. If oil were to reach an even higher price of close to $65, there would be a rush for financial hedging of even more domestic production. All of these factors are helping to keep a lid on prices.
But plenty of factors are also working on the plus side to keep oil here at $60 and not closer to $50 a barrel. Demand for gasoline at these lower prices has increased here in the US, evident by the concurrent increases in refinery run rates. And oil stockpiles have begun to decrease as the "carry trade" opportunity brought by storage has been disappearing. All of these factors tend to buoy the price of oil as it has sunk closer to $50 a barrel.
The resultant equilibrium of $60 oil, however, doesn't help anyone. It certainly doesn't develop any great investment opportunities in the oil space. The price isn't high enough to inspire a value play in exploration and production companies, nor in oil services, and particularly difficult recently has been the offshore drilling plays.
For now, at least, until this oil market shows its desire to move decisively one way or the other, the best way to play oil is to not play it at all. While I think the next decisive move will be down. I'll also be waiting on the sidelines instead of trying to force a trade here. I advise you to do the same.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.