Oil could approach the record prices of last July as the global recession halts investment in exploration and energy projects, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) warned last night.

By Rowena Mason
Published: 7:43PM BST 26 Apr 2009

Oil prices closed at $51.55 a barrel on Friday, which is 65pc below the record $147.27 a barrel reached in July 2008 Photo: BLOOMBERG NEWS

At a meeting in Toyko, OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing countries, and 13 Asian finance ministers, called for greater monitoring of global oil prices, claiming volatility is not in the interest of either producers or consumers.
The leaders expressed concerns in a joint statement that the world is heading for an oil price spike when it recovers from the economic crisis.

“Price extremes have been unjustifiable and unsustainable,” said the Saudi Arabian oil minister, Ali al-Naimi. “I have often cautioned that if prices remain too low for too long, they can carry the seeds of future spikes and volatility.”

Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s biggest oil reserves, is leading an attempt to reduce production by 4.2m barrels per day below September output. Prices closed at $51.55 a barrel on Friday, which is 65pc below the record $147.27 a barrel reached in July 2008.

“The drying up of liquidity to fund projects underpinning economic growth in emerging and developing economies has been a significant consequence of the recession,” said Mr al-Naimi.

OPEC decided against cutting production for a fourth cut since September last month, after worrying that about pushing up energy costs amid the global recession. The group, which supplies about 40pc of the world’s crude oil, is due to meet again in May.