Oil ministers of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) said that international investment in petroleum has shrank by 20 percent due to the global financial crisis.

This remark was made at the sideline of the 83rd OAPEC Ministerial Meeting held in Cairo. Arab oil ministers and senior officials expressed their satisfaction over the current oil prices and production quota, set one year ago by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Oran, Algeria.

The Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Chair this year’s meeting, Eng. Sameh Fahmy said in his speech, “The international companies have reduced their investments by 20 percent in 2009, compared to 2008, especially in the area of research and exploration”.

Fahmy highlighted that the Arab ministers discussed means of enhancing cooperation between OAPEC members and improving the companies working under the organization to face the global downturn challenges.

“Everything is so good… The price is perfect and all investors, consumers, producers are very happy,” said Ali Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

From his part, Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Sufian Allaw said, “If these prices remain stable for a period of time, this will restore confidence and re-employ new investments to meet the naturally growing demands.”

The OAPEC members asserted that the low oil prices discourage the countries investing in the oil sector, causing suspension and delay of considerable investment projects in the field.  “The price must vary from $70 to $80 in order to be profitable for investment. But if it goes down to $40, it will be useless for investment, which leads to suspending and delaying the projects,” said Bahrain’s Oil Minister Al-Hussain bin Ali Mirza.

Moreover, the participants welcomed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s forecast that oil will remain the dominant source of energy for several decades, and that the international demand for oil will increase from 85 million to 105 million barrels a day within the next 20 years.