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Oil Export Losses To Reach $300 Billion In Middle East This Year

Losses from lower oil exports should sap up to $300 billion from economies in the Middle East and Central Asia this year, as countries in the region adjust to falling crude prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

Economies that are particularly dependent on oil exports, including Qatar, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia, will be hit hardest by the more than 50 percent decline in petroleum prices, the IMF said in an update to its outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia.

Oil prices are now hovering near six-year lows amid expectations of an abundance of supply tied to unexpectedly high production of U.S. shale crude.

The IMF said, however, that falling crude prices will not translate immediately into major gains for oil importers in the Middle East and Central Asia, which have been hurt by the slowing growth prospects of key trading partners in the euro zone and Russia.

The IMF this week cut its forecasts for global economic growth to 3.5 percent for 2015 compared with an October outlook of 3.8 percent, and significantly lowered projections for oil exporters Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

The IMF said nearly every exporting country in the Middle East and Central Asia is expected to run a fiscal deficit this year because of the oil price shock, which prompted the IMF to downgrade the region's growth prospects by as much as 1 percentage point compared with its October forecasts, to 3.4 percent for 2015.

The losses are likely to reach 21 percentage points of gross domestic product in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, or about $300 billion. In non-GCC countries and in Central Asia, the expected losses are $90 billion and $35 billion this year, the IMF said.

Oil importers will see smaller gains, compared to exporters' losses, as their economies are less dependent on the price of petroleum, the IMF said. Morocco, Lebanon and Mauritania are expected to gain most from falling crude prices, while Lebanon and Egypt are likely to see improved fiscal balances, the IMF said.

The IMF expects oil-importing countries in the Middle East to save most of the windfall, boosting their current account positions by 1 percentage point of GDP, compared with what the IMF forecast in October.

Central Asian importers should see worse external positions this year, compared with the October forecasts, because of lower demand from Russia and China, the Fund said.

  • Published in Saudi Arabia

Oil prices hit fresh lows since 2009

New York: Oil prices slipped toward nearly six-year lows Tuesday after OPEC officials underscored the cartel`s resolve to not cut output despite a supply glut and plunging prices.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February fell 18 cents to settle at $45.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest close since March 11, 2009, when it finished at $42.33. The contract had traded below $45 early in the session.

In London, Brent crude for February delivery, the international benchmark futures contract, finished at $46.59 a barrel, down 84 cents from Monday, when it closed below $50 for the first time since April 2009.WTI and Brent shed more than $2 a barrel on Monday, after investment bank Goldman Sachs lowered its crude oil price forecasts.

"The latest OPEC member to hit the wires is the UAE, saying that OPEC members can withstand the crude drop, and that US shale drillers will be the first to curb production," said Matt Smith of Schneider Electric.

"This is adding fuel to the fire after yesterday`s sell-off, and a stronger dollar and a potential build to crude stocks from tomorrow`s weekly US inventory report is encouraging another sell-off."

The United Arab Emirates said Tuesday that the cartel could not stop world prices falling -- and called for a cut in booming shale oil output in the United States.Analysts say that richer cartel members -- like the UAE and Saudi Arabia -- have been ready to accept the price fall in the hope that it will force higher-cost shale producers out of the market.

"We cannot continue to be protecting a certain price," UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said.

"We have seen the oversupply, coming primarily from shale oil, and that needed to be corrected," he told participants in the Gulf Intelligence UAE Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said: "We expect this situation to continue until the surplus on the market is absorbed and the world economy improves."

Global oil prices have slumped by almost 60 percent since June as the market faces abundant supplies, demand fears and a strong dollar in a stuttering global economy.

The slide accelerated in November when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which provides about 30 percent of global supplies, kept its production ceiling at 30 million barrels per day.

  • Published in World
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