The latest 5-year spending plan of Algeria's Sonatrach sees a $20bn cut. But chronic project delays mean that, if this is hit, spending would actually increase.

Algeria state energy giant Sonatrach has cut its 5-year spending plan to just $56bn for 2018-22. This is down 25% on last year’s $75bn for 2017-21 and little more than half the $100bn planned for 2014-18.

But muddying the water is that actual spending in recent years has seriously lagged the planned figures. Each plan has...