UAE needs to earn only $32.4 per barrel to balance budget

DUBAI — The UAE, the most diversified economy in the region, needs to earn $32.40 per barrel — less than one-third of the current crude price — to balance its budget, according to the EFG-Hermes Holding.

By Issac John (Deputy Business Editor)

Published: Thu 5 Jun 2008, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:07 PM

Egypt's largest investment bank said in an e-mailed research report that the world's largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, needs to earn $54 per barrel of oil in 2008 to balance its budget while Kuwait needs $45.70. The report underscores UAE's economic diversification and steadily decreasing dependence on oil revenues meet its budgetary requirements, analysts said.

Gulf states may post record fiscal surpluses this year after crude oil increased more than 90 per cent in the past 12 months to $127 a barrel today. The six states in the Gulf Cooperation Council own about 40 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves.

''This provides the GCC countries with a huge safety net to continue to spend, even if oil prices weaken,'' said Monica Malik, chief economist at EFG, in the research note. ''We believe that as long as oil prices are between $55 and $60 per barrel the expansionary stance of the GCC countries will continue.''

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the GCC is enjoying unprecedented balance of payments surpluses and record foreign direct investment flows. The size of the GCC economies expanded to more than $800 billion million in 2007. Gross domestic product per capita rose above $20,000 for the GCC as a whole. In Qatar it rose above $70,000, while in the UAE the figure rose above $40,000. "Strong growth, coupled with an inflation rate above 7 per cent on average, is expected across the GCC in 2008," it said.

IMF figures show that the GCC current account surplus rose to $225 billion in 2007 compared with about $200 billion in 2006. This was the third consecutive year that the surplus was more than 25 per cent of GDP and it has raised the total surplus over the last five years to $750 billion.

EFG-Hermes research said large budget surpluses make it difficult for Gulf states to curtail spending to help slow inflation, which has quickened to records across the region. Kuwait became the fourth Gulf states to report an inflation rate above 10 per cent, while Qatar reported price-growth of 14.8 per cent.

Spending will increase 28.9 percent in the UAE. this year, 25.6 per cent in Qatar and 7.1 percent in Saudi Arabia, the EFG report said.

The six GCC states control as much as $1.5 trillion of assets through their sovereign wealth funds, about half the $2.9 trillion global total, according to the International Monetary Fund. Such funds may grow to $12 trillion by 2012, the IMF said.

The funds have invested at least $59 billion in the past year to shore up the balance sheets of Wall Street banks, including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., prompting calls from the US Congress for more openness.

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