A senior Algerian energy official told Reuters that his country had cancelled a planned bid round for oil and gas exploration rights, due to low oil prices.

“This is not the right period to launch it,” he said. “Many major international oil companies have dropped investment plans because of the fall in prices.”

“We will launch it when the market conditions become favorable,” the official said.

According to E&P magazine Sontrach had originally announced that a bidding round was planned for the third quarter of this year, in compensation for the disappointing 2011 auction.

In fact, only four of 31 blocks on offer were awarded to foreign companies last year.

Energy output makes up 95% of the state budget and 60% of Algeria’s exports.

A presidential statement had also revealed that energy output peaked at 233m tonnes of oil equivalent in 2007, declining to 187m tonnes by 2012.

Sonatrach head Amine Mazouzi also announced his company would maintain most of its planned investments, focusing instead on reducing costs.