Speaking to delegates at the Chatham House Middle East Energy meeting in London on 9 February, Abdalla Salem El-Badri, said that the projects had been put back as national oil companies struggled to come to terms with lower oil prices.

Echoing comments by UAE Energy Minister Mohamed bin Dhaen Al Hamli earlier in the day, he said that current oil prices were half the level necessary for ongoing investments in the oil-rich member states.

“The financial scenario, the worst since the great depression, has led to a deep recession and has had a dramatic effect on the developing world,” said El-Badri. “Of these exceptional circumstances, we are increasingly concerned about the effect that it might have on the long-term production [alongside] lower prices.

“We need to make investment decisions that ensure oil supply in the future,” he said, adding that if this is not done there is a risk of “under-investment and the all too familiar boom-bust scenario”.

El-Badri also said that Opec member states need to maintain a significant level of spare production capacity in order to properly regulate markets and prepare for future demand.

“It is essential to highlight the importance of spare capacity,” he said. “[We] have a policy of consistently maintaining adequate spare capacity.”

The secretary general pointed to Opec’s ability to increase production by 4.5m barrels a day (b/d) when oil prices were at record highs last year.

Current spare capacity after recent Opec cuts stands at around 8m b/d with around 5m b/d to be added over the next decade, El-Badri added.

El-Badri said that global demand for crude oil will reach 115m b/d by 2030 from existing levels of around 85m b/d.