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World Bank chief visits oil-rich Saudi Arabia

Riyadh moving ahead with an economic strategy that lessens dependence on oil.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Saudi Arabia hosts representatives from the World Bank as it retools its economy to focus less on oil for revenue. Photo by akiyoko/Shutterstock.
Saudi Arabia hosts representatives from the World Bank as it retools its economy to focus less on oil for revenue. Photo by akiyoko/Shutterstock.

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Riyadh received support for a new economic vision from the World Bank, the government said as representatives met on the sidelines with OPEC.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud hosted World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to discuss broader economic cooperation.

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"Kim praised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, expressing the bank's desire for participating in achieving the vision's objectives," the official Saudi Press Agency documented.

The Vision 2030 economic agenda aims to boost Saudi Arabia's non-oil revenue. In a progress report, the Saudi government said it was making progress on economic reforms aimed at correcting a deficit, with both oil and non-oil revenue on pace to increase in 2017.

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Oil revenues for this year are estimated at $128 billion, 46 percent higher than 2016 projections. Non-oil revenues are estimated at $56 billion, about 6.5 percent higher than 2016 projections.

Saudi Arabia is the de facto head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as its largest producer. In its report for January, OPEC reports "strong signs of growth" in the country's non-oil private sector. Total domestic oil consumption, meanwhile, was the lowest since December 2013.

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The country's production, meanwhile, is moving lower in coordination with a managed decline agreement from OPEC. For the first time in years, Saudi Arabia's oil production is below 10 million barrels per day.

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Meanwhile, representatives from the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known also as Saudi Aramco, met with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo to discuss conditions in the oil market. According to OPEC, Saudi Aramco officials "expressed appreciation for the recent work done in support of oil market stability."

Crude oil prices recovered from below $30 per barrel in early 2016 to the mid-$50 range since OPEC in November agreed to curb production in an effort to balance the market. The retraction in OPEC supply has been countered by a rise in U.S. oil production that came as a result of improved market conditions.

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