Saudi oil revenue down 23 percent

Five-year plan for Riyadh calls for a reduced fiscal dependency on oil.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Dec. 28, 2015 at 9:03 AM
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Total oil revenues for Saudi Arabia for the year are expected to be 23 percent less than the previous fiscal year, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

The ministry reported total revenue for fiscal year 2015 at $162 billion, an estimated 15 percent decline from budgeted revenues. Oil revenues are expected to reach $118 billion, a decline of 23 percent from the previous year.

Lower crude oil prices, down more than 60 percent from mid-2014, are hurting economies from exporting nations like Saudi Arabia that depend heavily on crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia, considered the head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has defended its policy of robust crude oil production, saying it needed to protect its global market share amid an expected increase in demand from Asian economies.

The Finance Ministry said it adopted a budget for next year that takes into account the weak crude oil market.

"This budget also comes amid challenging international and regional economic and financial conditions, namely a global economic slowdown in growth," it said.

Crude oil prices are lower in part because weak global economic growth is not enough to take up the extra crude oil on the market. Saudi Arabia has been accused of over-producing in an effort to crimp output from U.S. shale oil basins.

The government said it was embracing a set of policies and structural reforms meant to reduce the economic dependency on oil. Part of the five-year reform policy includes the privatization of some sectors of the Saudi economy.

For the year, the finance ministry said gross domestic product was expected to increase by 3.4 percent, and the oil sector is expected to grow by 3.06 percent. The latest figures from the United States show a GDP growth rate of around 2 percent.

The Saudi government said that, because of "excessive" volatility in crude oil prices, a budget support provision of $48.7 billion was established to help finance projects designated as national priorities.

Non-oil revenue for Saudi Arabia increased 29 percent from last year to $43.5 billion.

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