by Michele Delera - Omani crude is currently trading at below $40 per barrel. Drilling activity in the country has hardly been affected. Crude and condensates production hit record levels recently, with 1mm b/d produced for the first time in the country’s history in July. But spending in the hydrocarbon sector is increasingly under pressure. At least 1,000 Omani workers – around 5% of Omani nationals employed in oil and gas companies – have been laid off since the start of the year. More redundancies are expected in the months ahead. With over 45 percent of Oman’s population being less than 20 and the memory of the 2011-12 protests still fresh, this is a sensitive issue.
by Michele Delera - Last month Mr Rouhani’s cabinet raised domestic fuel prices by 40 percent, and gas prices to households and commercial consumers by 15 percent. The move comes as part of a wider government effort – which also includes a planned depreciation of the official exchange rate, by 10 percent – to bring some relief to the country’s strained public finances.
by Michele Delera The decline in oil prices is putting under strong pressure the budgets of oil exporting countries across the MENA region, and is reducing their external positions. Algeria – where the hydrocarbon sector accounts for over 95 percent of export earnings, and around 64 percent of total fiscal revenues – is a case in point. Oil and gas exports generated $12.54 bn in the first quarter of 2015, 43 percent less than over the same period last year . With lower export earnings, the current account deficit is bound to increase. So is the fiscal deficit, which the IMF expects will rise to just under 13 percent of GDP.