Gulf states $50bn largesse supports Mideast sovereign ratings as geopolitical risk rises

People stroll in a traditional market in downtown Amman. Jordan is among the Middle East countries that has received aid from Gulf oil exporters. (AFP)
Updated 28 November 2018
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Gulf states $50bn largesse supports Mideast sovereign ratings as geopolitical risk rises

  • Fewer direct disbursements being sent from Gulf
  • Aid packages align with regional strategic interests

LONDON: The sovereign ratings of countries such as Bahrain, Oman and Jordan have been boosted by expectations of support from oil-rich Gulf donor states, according to a new report from S&P.
But actual disbursements may fall short of the promised amounts while budget grants are becoming less prevalent as deposits in central banks and other forms of conditional concessional funding are increasingly the norm.
“We anticipate that GCC sovereigns will likely prioritize funding to key regional partners in the context of volatile prices, weaker GCC net asset positions, and their respective domestic agendas of diversifying their economies awat from hydrocarbons,” S&P Global Ratings said.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar this year pledged to give around $50 billion in total aid to 10 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Beneficiaries included Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco.
As a proportion of GDP, funding support from GCC countries has been highest in Jordan, where the economy has absorbed large numbers of Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
However in absolute terms, Egypt has received the most donor support, S&P said.
Gulf states have pledged large sums as geopolitical risks have increased in the form of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as the boycott of Qatar by some of its neighbors.


Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

Updated 10 min 3 sec ago
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Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

  • Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons
  • Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years

LONDON: Australia has become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, overtaking Qatar for the first time, according to data published on Monday.

Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons, according to Refinitiv Eikon, the financial data arm of Thomson Reuters.

While LNG exports from Australia increased by more than 15 percent from the previous month, Qatar’s exports dropped by 3 percent.

Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years. Just last month, the first LNG shipment left the country’s new offshore Ichthys project on the northwestern coast of Australia.

Analysts expect Australia will look to maintain its lead ahead of the Qataris.

“Competition between Qatar and Australia for the share of global LNG market is set to intensify further,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s global gas analytics in London.

“Australia has boosted its market share in recent years by bringing online a slew of LNG export projects. This is in stark contrast with the situation in Qatar where the export capacity has remained around 77 million tons per annum,” he said.

Ehsan Khoman, head of regional research and strategy at MUFG, in Dubai, said Australia has an advantage over Qatar due to it being geographically closer to major gas importers.

“The lower transportation freight costs will remain the backbone of Australia comparative advantage as an exporter vis-à-vis Qatar, given the country’s closer proximity to the largest LNG importers in Asia, namely, Japan, China and South Korea,” he said.

Rising LNG exports from US will add to the global market competition, he said.

“Going forward, the LG space is likely to undergo a major transformation driven by new supplies coming from the US, with our expectation of a three-way tug of war between the US, Australia and Qatar to intensify in the medium term for global leadership among LNG exporters, notably for a larger share of the key market in Asia.”

The data follows Qatar’s announcement last week that it would leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in early 2019 to focus on gas production.

Kumar said he expects Qatar to ramp up efforts to maintain its market position as competition grows from other exporters.

“Qatar has plans to vigorously defend its market share in the coming years as it is moving ahead with expanding the capacity of its Ras Laffan plant to around 110 million tons per annum by the end of 2025 or early 2026,” he said.