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Saudi Economy Eased in Second Quarter on Slower Oil Growth

Saudi Arabia’s economy expanded 5.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace since at least 2010, as oil prices declined.

Growth eased from 5.9 percent in the January-March period, the nation’s statistics department in the capital, Riyadh, said on its website today. The increase in oil and natural gas earnings slowed to 6 percent from 7.7 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s economy grew 7.1 percent last year, buoyed by higher oil prices and a government spending spree aimed at preventing the kind of political unrest that spread across most Arab countries. Crude plunged 18 percent in the second quarter of this year, contributing to decline in the Saudi growth rate even as oil output hit a three-decade high.

Production in the kingdom, which holds the world’s largest conventional reserves, increased to 9.9 million barrels a day in May, the highest since 1980, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has maintained production close to that level every month since.

The petroleum industry accounts for about 45 percent of Saudi economic output, 75 percent of budget revenue and 90 percent of export earnings, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Construction expanded 9.3 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, the statistics office said. The rate was above 12 percent in the three periods after the outbreak of Arab revolts in January 2011. King Abdullah announced about $60 billion of additional spending on housing and other social programs last year.

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