What will an Iran deal mean for global oil prices?

After weeks of negotiations, deadline extensions, threats to walk away from the talks and promises to work out the sticking points, a long-sought-after international agreement with Iran could be within reach.

Six nations, including the United States, have been working with Iranian officials on a deal that would end most economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Tehran freezing its nuclear program.

And while the geopolitical impact of such a deal is still being considered, global oil prices have been reacting for days, now: falling steadily in anticipation of a possible accord at the talks in Vienna.

Of course the price of crude oil has been declining for months. Higher global supplies, due in part to the North American shale oil boom, have been pressuring the market for more than a year now, while the slowing-down of economic growth in China and ongoing concerns over Greece and the eurozone's future are also contributing to the overall drop.

And now analysts are seriously contemplating what the introduction of more Iranian crude oil to the global market might mean for both businesses and consumers.

Iran currently exports about 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, down from its 2.2 million bpd level ten years ago, before sanctions were imposed.

And last month Iran's oil minister said his nation could produce an extra 500,000 extra bpd within a month of the current sanctions being lifted, and an additional one million bpd within six months of that time. And he added that the additional production would "not have a negative impact" on the global oil market.

Jeff Mower, director of Americas Oil News for the Platts energy and commodities information firm, says there are too many unresolved variables to consider for anyone to exactly predict what the markets will do, if and when an Iran agreement is reached.

For example, would OPEC consider shaving back its production numbers if member-nation Iran is given the go-ahead? "So far they don't seem too interested in that," says Mower, who also points to the news that Saudi Arabia increased its crude production to a record-high 10.56 million bpd last month.

And with prices on two benchmark crude oils approaching the $50 a barrel level, Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently projected that U.S. crude prices "could soon drop well below our $50 per barrel target" in the third quarter of this year.

Mower also wonders how much farther oil can drop before the markets see a further, substantial decline. But he reminds consumers that even if Iran starts adding more oil to the international crude oil market, there isn't a direct link between crude oil and prices at the gas pump.

"The gasoline market has its own fundamentals," he adds. "Even though crude prices were dropping we saw gasoline prices really holding up. You can have all sorts of other things playing into the gasoline market; (such as) higher demands for gasoline or supply disruptions."