OPEC oil producers may be forced to take a "drastic decision" when they meet again in May if oil prices are still very low, OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah Al Badri said on Monday.
Badri told Reuters Financial Television in an interview that oil prices, now trading between $40 and $50 per barrel, were well below the level needed by the oil industry to allow vital investment.
He said OPEC members needed oil prices well above the $50 level and could not endure prices at current levels for a long period: "We really cannot go too long because at this price there is no way we can invest."
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided at a meeting in Vienna on Sunday to leave existing oil production targets unchanged, but promised to enforce those curbs more strictly and said they would meet again at the end of May to review progress.
OPEC has already promised to reduce oil output by 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from its production levels seen in September and has said it has already met about 80 percent of that target.
Badri estimated the remaining oil production that OPEC still needed to cut was around 800,000 bpd and said he wanted to see almost all of that oil output removed by the time OPEC reconvened in May.
"When we meet in May, we will see how much compliance our member countries have performed and in March and April I hope that at least 95 percent of that 800,000 barrels per day will be out of the market," he said.
"And then, if the market is still very low, maybe we will take a drastic decision."
Badri did not specify what this decision could be but oil analysts have said OPEC countries might be tempted to reduce their oil production further.
Asked whether OPEC had decided to maintain oil production at current levels to help the world economy, Badri replied:
"We are just trying to contribute because the world economy is in very bad shape." (Reuters)