Oil had a banner year in 2021.

Oil prices rose from the low $50s per barrel at the beginning of the year to the low $70s at the end of the year. They are expected to trade in the range of $60 to $100 in 2022, according to Womble Bond Dickinson partner and energy and natural resources sector co-lead Jeff Whittle.

Athens-based oil forecaster Kosmas Megalooikonomou sees a tighter range and a downward direction for 2022.

"The average price in December 2021 was $71.52, and the estimation for December 2022 is considered to be $56.86 (-20% start/end)," he said. "The average price for 2022 is estimated at around $62 compared to $67.84, the average price for 2021 (-8,6%)."

Whittle sees production assets continue to be for sale as traditional energy companies move away from carbon products and try to deploy capital to greener technologies and investments.

"The race to renewables will continue unabated. Based on the findings of our 2022 Energy Transition Outlook Survey of energy industry executives, general counsel and investors, industry leaders are fully embracing the transition to green," he said. "We see hydrogen, battery storage and efficiency technologies as key areas of focus. Geothermal is seeing an uptick in investor interest. Solar and wind growth will continue, but it would seem at a slower pace. It is important to remember that those somewhat more mature technologies are ultimately constrained by geographies and atmospheric conditions."

Kathryn Downey Miller, president of BTU Analytics, a FactSet company, also sees downward pressure for traditional energy companies.

"Traditional energy companies are having an identity crisis," she said. "Despite a strong profit outlook heading into 2022, enormous pressure is coming from providers of capital and other stakeholders to evolve business models for the new energy economy, as we've seen with examples like Shell, ExxonMobil, etc."

She sees the high volatility in the oil markets of the last quarter of 2021 to continue in 2022, thanks to plenty of noise from Iran and the potential for discord within OPEC.

"Fundamentally, demand is expected back at pre-pandemic levels, but government reactions to new variants, Iran news or actions, or any discontent within the OPEC coalition have the potential to create plenty of noise. We're modeling that the OPEC agreement to continue with its planned increase in the group's January production quota will keep prices below $80 per barrel for the next several months," she said.

There are factors that could add volatility to the oil market.

One of them is COVID-19 lingering much longer than markets have discounted, sending oil prices below $60.

Then there's the impending monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve and the ECB, which could slow the U.S. and eurozone economies and put downward pressure on oil demand and prices.

"Commodities' prices were strongly supported by the extremely high liquidity in the global financial system," says energy analyst Theophanis Matsopoulos. "Tapering will reduce liquidity and growth will soften simultaneously with inflation, which means that the expectation regarding oil will be bearish since OPEC+ decided to maintain stable production."

And there's the potential of Russia invading Ukraine, which could push oil prices above $80 toward the $100 mark.

The bottom line: In 2022, the oil market will continue to be at the mercy of geopolitical events and central bank policies, which could push oil prices to the extremes.