According to the Middle East oil experts, the current crude prices in the realm of $50/barrel will help GCC to avoid a potential budget deficit as announced by the latest bulletin of the Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB). The bulletin has stated that GCC nations would suffer from a deficit in their budgets this fiscal for the first time in more than five years because of low crude prices, decrease in production and the absence of tax revenue in the region.
Some of the experts argued that the six Gulf nations had planned their 2009-10 budget maintaining oil prices at an average of $45-55 a barrel, therefore, taking into account the month-long stable oil prices at $50/barrel would in fact record marginal surplus rather than deficit budgets. Although EIB had warned of a deficit budget, they had ruled any possibility of 1990’s situation that inflicted heavy debt and low assets among the GCC member states. The reason cited is that they had accumulated huge financial reserves since last five years owing to a steady increase in oil prices, and particularly the first quarter of last year when the prices skyrocketed to reach the all time high of $147/barrel.
In 2008, though GCC member states estimated a budget surplus of $32bn, they amassed about $190bn surplus since the oil prices averaged at $95/barrel throughout last fiscal. Experts pointed out that if at all any member in the GCC to fall short of a surplus would be Saudi Arabia, because it produces almost a third of the total output of the region to make it the biggest loser or gainer while the prices fluctuate. As an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia along with other members had cut oil production several times since last November to halt the slide in oil prices, and the current production stand at 8.2mn barrel/day from last year’s high of more than 9mn bpd.