A Guide to Oil Producers' Scramble for Money as Crude Tumblesby
Nigeria is latest country to seek help as oil revenue plummets
From Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, governments reducing spending
Nigeria’s bid for concessionary loans from the World Bank and African Development Bank is just the latest example of the havoc wreaked on oil-producing nations by the slump in crude prices.
From Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, governments are abandoning largess and risking political unrest with measures that include lowering energy subsidies and cuts to public-sector wages. With prices still falling, attempts to diversify from oil have taken on greater urgency.
“A decade of abundance has been brought to an end by the worst terms of trade shock in a generation," said Simon Williams, chief economist for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC Holdings Plc in London. “There’s no painless means to adjust to the losses they face, or easy way to reduce their structural dependence on oil."
Here’s a breakdown of some key measures taken and considered. Estimates for 2016 are from Bloomberg’s surveys of economists unless stated otherwise.
The world’s largest oil exporter has taken unprecedented steps to counter the drop in revenue, including watering down a long-standing social contract that offered Saudi citizens a subsidized cost-of-living in exchange for maintaining authority. The government has increased the prices of fuel, electricity and water, and is also planning to introduce value-added taxes.
Saudi Arabia issued bonds for the first time in nearly a decade last year. The central bank’s net foreign assets tumbled by about $115 billion in 2015. Selling stakes in state-owned entities, including oil giant Aramco, is also on the table.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth 1.9 percent vs 3.4 percent in 2015. Budget deficit: 14.3 percent of GDP vs an estimated 16 percent, according to National Bank of Abu Dhabi
OPEC’s second-largest crude producer is cutting its spending plan to 105 trillion dinars ($88 billion) in 2016, 12 percent lower than last year, and the 2016 budget is entirely operational, with no room for investment. The government, battling Islamic State militants who have captured swathes of territory, announced austerity measures including to public-sector wages.
Iraq also turned to the International Monetary Fund for aid. It secured $1.24 billion last year and should qualify for another loan if it can reduce its non-oil primary deficit under a staff-monitored program. The government may also sell international bonds.
- 2016 Outlook: The IMF estimates that GDP didn’t grow in 2015, and expects a 7.1 percent expansion this year, driven by increased oil output. The lender expects Iraq’s budget deficit to narrow to 17.7 percent of GDP from 23.1 percent. The figures are expected to drop if Iraq follows IMF-monitored reforms
Russia relies on oil and natural gas for almost half of its fiscal revenue. Lower prices also caused the ruble to depreciate, and inflation accelerated to a 13-year high of 16.9 percent in March 2015. It eased to 12.9 percent in December, though that’s still more than three times the central bank’s goal.
The government needs to find 1.5 trillion rubles ($19 billion) of cost-savings, including a 10 percent cut in spending, if it is to avoid a shortfall of more than 6 percent of gross domestic product this year, according to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
- 2016 Outlook: 0.8 percent GDP contraction vs 3.7 percent drop. Budget deficit: 3.2 percent of GDP vs 2.6 percent
The country shifted to a floating exchange rate in August as tumbling crude prices and devaluations by Russia and China boosted the cost of defending the currency. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for the sale of shares in all state-owned companies including oil refineries, telecommunication companies and power plants to pay back debt.
Kazakhstan is also considering pegging the subsidies it pays for renewable energy to the dollar to attract foreign investors. The largest oil producer after Russia among the former Soviet republics is hoping to meet 3 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2020, and 10 percent by 2030.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth 1.5 percent, unchanged from 2015. Budget deficit: 2.6 percent vs 3.3 percent
The former Soviet republic followed Kazakhstan in moving to a free-floating currency. Yet a 50 percent devaluation of the Azerbaijani manat and the introduction of capital controls last year did little to ease the pressure. Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating to junk last month, citing Azerbaijan’s dependence on oil prices that won’t rebound soon.
The government is saying it doesn’t need a bailout, and that officials from the IMF and the World Bank who visited the country last week were there to give advice on improving Azerbaijan’s business climate and on how to undertake a privatization program.
- 2016 Outlook: The economy may contract by 1 percent in 2016, according to S&P, compared with 1.1 percent growth last year. The IMF forecasts the budget deficit will drop to 5.5 percent from its 2015 estimate 9.2 percent
President Nicolas Maduro described the oil slump as a “financial disaster,” with about 64 percent fewer dollars entering the country from crude exports and other sources. Consumer price inflation, already the world’s highest at 275 percent, is expected to more than double to 720 percent in 2016, according to the IMF.
As one of the worst-hit producers, Venezuela has been lobbying OPEC members and other nations to cut production to drive up prices. There’s been no agreement so far.
- 2016 Outlook: 4.8 contraction in GDP vs 8 percent drop. Budget deficit 8.7 of GDP percent vs 10.5 percent
Algeria initially relied on reserves to offset falling oil revenue, but the government is targeting a 9 percent spending cut by the end of 2016. Parliament has approved a budget which increases the price of gasoline, diesel gas, water and electricity, and raises the value-added tax on some products to 17 percent from 7 percent.
Authorities allowed the dinar to devalue, which will boost inflation to 4.1 percent this year, according to the IMF.
- 2016 Outlook: IMF forecasts 3.9 percent growth in 2016 vs estimated 3 percent last year, and a budget deficit at 11.4 percent of GDP vs 13.9 percent
United Arab Emirates
The Arab world’s second-largest economy scrapped transport fuel subsidies in August, linking prices to global rates, and is looking to get rid of them for electricity providers. Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the seven-member federation, increased water and electricity tariffs by 170 percent and 40 percent respectively. Some companies, such as Abu Dhabi-owned Etihad Rail, have cut jobs.
The U.A.E. is better placed than most of its peers to withstand the oil slump, according to HSBC.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth unchanged at 3 percent. Budget deficit of the federal government: 2.1 percent of GDP vs 4 percent
The small gas-rich nation plans to cut spending by 7 percent to 202.5 billion riyals ($56 billion) in 2016, according to the state budget. Revenues are expected to fall by about a third, but are based on an oil price of $48 a barrel.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth expected to slow to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent. Economists predict a 2.1 percent budget deficit following a government-estimated 1.7 percent surplus last year
Africa’s top oil producer is seeking loans to fund record spending to boost growth, which probably fell to the lowest since 1999 last year, leaving a highest-ever budget gap of 3 trillion naira ($15 billion). Nigeria depends on oil for almost all of its exports and two-thirds of government revenue.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth little changed at 4.1 percent. Budget deficit: 2.3 percent vs 1.9 percent
South East Asia’s biggest economy hasn’t fared nearly as badly as it’s oil-producing peers. Lower prices allowed the government of President Joko Widodo to remove politically-sensitive gasoline subsidies and to cap state aid on diesel last year. Still, lower revenue from energy production is hurting the government’s budget and tax revenue.
- 2016 Outlook: Growth 5.2 percent vs 4.7 percent. Budget deficit: little changed at 2.3 percent of GDP