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Fitch: Energy-rich Qatar goes from crisis to surplus

A regional spat last year was credit negative for all parties to the dispute, though Qatar seems to have emerged unscathed.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
An astronaut flying aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of part of Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Fitch Ratings said Qatar as recovered from regional disputes to the point that it's economy is rising along with crude oil price. File Photo by NASA/UPI
An astronaut flying aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of part of Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Fitch Ratings said Qatar as recovered from regional disputes to the point that it's economy is rising along with crude oil price. File Photo by NASA/UPI | License Photo

June 5 (UPI) -- Recovering from political disputes, a $10 per barrel increase in the price of oil could add about 4 percent to GDP from gas-rich Qatar, Fitch Ratings reported.

Qatar is the second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world, behind Australia. Last year, Moody's Investors Service said regional disputes with Qatar were credit negative for all parties involved.

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Saudi Arabia last year led a coalition of Middle East countries in severing ties with Qatar, adding a layer of geopolitical risk to the global energy market. The countries accused Qatar of supporting terrorist networks and called on the nation to downgrade its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and close its al-Jazeera media outlet, among other things.

The spat had regional implications because, apart from actual reserves, the Persian Gulf is a choke point for the flow of energy supplies from the region.

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"Qatar has successfully managed the fallout from last year's rupture of trade, financial and diplomatic relations with the Quartet consisting of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt," a report from Fitch Ratings read.

Moving from a fiscal deficit, accounts for Qatar could move into a surplus by next year. There's been no escalation in the regional disputes and Qatar's economy should improve on the back of higher crude oil prices.

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"Our forecasts for the government budget are based on a baseline Brent oil price assumption of $57.5 per barrel," the report from Fitch read. "We estimate that a $10 per bbl increase in oil prices could lead to an improvement in the fiscal balance of around 4 percent of gross domestic product relative to our forecast, all other things equal."

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The price for Brent crude oil was around $74 per barrel early Tuesday.

Fitch adds that it expects the government to spend more on infrastructure through 2020. Qatar, meanwhile, aims to capitalize on its LNG prospects by boosting exports from the North Field, which it shares with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

State-run Qatar Petroleum this week made its international debut in shale by taking a 30 percent stake in the lucrative Vaca Muerta natural gas reservoir in Argentina through an agreement with Exxon Mobil.

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