By Jonathan Davies

Oil prices are unlikely to return to the record levels of the last few years, according to Saudi Arabia's representative at Opec.

Mohammed al-Madi, Saudi's governor at the body of oil producing countries, said it would be "difficult" for oil prices to return to $100-$120.

Brent crude oil cost roughly $115 per barrel before crashing last summer, to as low as $40 a barrel before Christmas.

Brent crude now trades at around $55, with US oil around $46.

"$100-$120 - I think it's difficult to reach $120 another time," Mr Al-Madi answered when asked if prices could return.

He also rejected claims that Saudi Arabia's position on oil production and prices had no political aspect.

Over supply was widely accepted to be the cause of the drop in prices last year, but Saudi Arabia refused to cut production. That prompted criticism from Iran and some of suggested that low prices will hurt the US' booming shale gas industry.

Mr Al-Madi said: "There isn't any political dimension in what we do at the oil ministry - our vision is commercial and economic... We are not against anybody or against the [production of US shale gas]. On the contrary we welcome it, as it balances the market in the long run."