Oman, Kuwait urge oil producers to pursue cooperation
Oman, Kuwait urge oil producers to pursue cooperation
Producers from the OPEC oil cartel and non-OPEC countries struck a deal in 2016 to trim production by 1.8 million barrels per day to rebalance the market after its collapse in 2014.
The deal, which runs out at the end of this year, has succeeded in boosting oil prices above $70 a barrel from below $30 a barrel in early 2016.
“I call for the signatories of the (cooperation) declaration agreement, those 24 nations from OPEC and non-OPEC, to continue the dialogue, the understanding and commitment in maintaining the market conditions that will encourage investment,” Omani Oil Minister Mohamed Al-Rumhi told an oil conference in Kuwait.
He also called for enhancing “collaboration and work together to ensure security of supply for consumers and security of demand for producers.”
Kuwait’s Oil Minister Bakheet Al-Rasheedi said he believes that oil producers were on the right path to restore stability to the oil market.
“A year ago, there was a surplus of 340 million barrels of oil. At the end of February, the surplus dropped to 50 million barrels and we believe we are on the right path to get rid of this surplus,” Rasheedi told reporters.
He said that the OPEC and non-OPEC cooperation will be reviewed at an OPEC meeting in June.
“Market conditions will determine whether the deal will be extended beyond 2018 or arrive at a permanent agreement... to support the market on a long-term basis,” he said.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries have called for striking a long-term cooperation deal to stabilize the oil market.
OPEC secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo told the Kuwait conference that the 2016 deal achieved a great success in overcoming the “worst cycle in the history of oil.”
A “new chapter is being authored” by OPEC and non-OPEC producers to continue cooperation, he said.
“In the months ahead, we will look to institutionalize this long-term framework for continuity with an inclusive and broad-based participation,” Barkindo said.
The joint ministerial committee of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers, which monitors compliance to production cuts, meets in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday to review adherence and discuss long-term cooperation.
Gulf companies challenged by debt and rising interest rates
- Debt restructurings on the rise, but below crisis levels
- Central Bank of the UAE has raised interest rates four times since last March
There has been an uptick in recent months in heavily-borrowed companies in the Gulf seeking to restructure their debts with lenders. Although the pressure on companies is not comparable to levels witnessed in the region following the 2008 global financial crisis, rising interest rates will eventually begin to have a greater impact, say experts.
Speaking exclusively to Arab news, Matthew Wilde, a partner at consultancy PwC in Dubai, said: “We do expect that interest rate increases will gradually start to impact companies over the next 12 months, but to date the impact of hedging and the runoff of older fixed rate deals has meant the impact is fairly muted so far.”
The Central Bank of the UAE has raised interest rates four times since the start of last year, in line with action taken by the US Federal Reserve. The Fed has signalled that it will raise interest rates at least twice more before the end of the year.
Wilde added that there had been a little more pressure on company balance sheets of late, although “this shouldn’t be overplayed”.
Nevertheless, just last week, Stanford Marine Group — majority owned by a fund managed by private equity firm Abraaj Group — was reported by the New York Times to be in talks with banks to restructure a $325 million Islamic loan. The newspaper cited a Reuters report that relied on “banking sources”.
The Dubai-based oil and gas services firm, which has struggled as a result of the downturn in the hydrocarbons market since 2014, has reportedly asked banks to consider extending the maturity of its debt and restructuring repayments, after it breached certain loan covenants.
A fund managed by Abraaj owns 51 percent of Stanford Marine, with the remaining stake held by Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Waha Capital. Abraaj declined to comment.
Dubai-based theme parks operator DXB Entertainments struck a deal last month with creditors to restructure 4.2 billion dirhams ($1.1 billion) of borrowings, with visitor numbers to attractions such as Legoland Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai struggling to meet visitor targets.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Sharjah-based Gulf General Investment Company was in talks with banks to restructure loan and credit facilities after defaulting on a payment linked to 2.1 billion dirhams of debt at the end of last year.
Dubai International Capital, according to a Bloomberg report from December, has restructured its debt for the second time, reaching an agreement with banks to roll over a loan of about $1 billion. At the height of the emirate’s boom years, DIC amassed assets worth about $13 billion, including the owner of London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum, as well as stakes in Sony and Daimler. The firm was later forced to sell most of these assets and reschedule $2.5 billion of debt after the global financial crisis.
Wilde told Arab News: “We have seen an increasing number of listed companies restructuring or planning to restructure their capital recently — including using tools such as capital reductions and raising capital by using quasi equity instruments such as perpetual bonds.”
This has happened across the region and PwC expected this to accelerate a little as companies “respond to legislative pressures and become more familiar with the options available to fix their problems,” said Wilde.
He added that the trend was being driven by oil prices remaining below historical highs, soft economic conditions, and continued caution in the UAE’s banking sector.
On the debt restructuring side, Wilde said there had been a “reasonably steady flow of cases of debts being restructured”.
However, the volume of firms seeking to renegotiate debt remains small compared to the level of restructurings witnessed in the aftermath of Dubai’s debt crisis.
Several big name firms in the emirate were caught out by the onset of the global financial crisis, which saw the emirate’s booming economy and real estate market go into reverse.
State-owned conglomerate Dubai World, whose companies included real-estate firm Nakheel and ports operator DP World, stunned global markets in November 2009 when it asked creditors for a six-month standstill on its obligations. Dubai World restructured around $25 billion of debt in 2011, followed by a $15 billion restructuring deal in 2015.
“We would not expect it to become (comparable to 2008-9) so barring some form of sharp external impetus such as global political instability or a protectionist trade war,” said Wilde.
Nor did he see the introduction of VAT as particularly driving this trend, but rather as just one more factor impacting some already strained sectors (e.g. some sub sectors of retail) “which were already pressured by other macro factors.”