GCC banking sector to stabilize in 2018, says S&P Global

Most Gulf banks have been given a stable outlook this year. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2018

GCC banking sector to stabilize in 2018, says S&P Global

LONDON: Banks in the Gulf are expected to see their financial position stabilize this year as they reap the benefits of some regional economic improvement, according a report from the ratings agency S&P Global.
“2018 will mark the stabilization of the financial profiles and performance of GCC banks, after two years of significant pressure,” the report said.
Most of the banks in the region rated by the agency have a “stable” outlook, with the exception of Qatari institutions which have “negative” outlooks due to the continued uncertainty surrounding the boycott on the country imposed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab states.
Lending growth in the Gulf banking sector is forecast to remain “muted” in 2018, according to S&P Global. Private-sector lending rose by an annualized 2.6 percent in the first nine months of 2017, which compares to 5.7 percent in 2016, the report said.
Strategic initiatives such as Dubai Expo 2020 and the Saudi Vision 2030 are expected to push up private-sector lending growth to around 3-4 percent between 2018 and 2019, the agency said.
Non-performing loan (NPL) ratios are forecast to continue to deteriorate in the first six months of the year before eventually stabilising, S&P said.
At the end of September 2017, NPL to total loans ratio for the region’s banks reached 3.1 percent compared to 2.9 percent recorded at the end of 2016.
Declining real estate prices in the UAE could reduce asset quality of Emirati banks, though the deterioration is likely to be “contained.”
Funding is improving in the region, with government deposits in the banking sector growing, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In contrast, deposit growth is under pressure in Kuwait due to increased government spending.
The agency said Gulf banks’ funding profiles were “satisfactory,” with core customer deposits dominating funding, while the use of wholesale funding remains limited.
While there were some improvements in banks’ profits in the first nine months of 2017, S&P Global does not see this trend lasting.
It predicted that bank profitability will “plateau” this year, due in part to muted lending and reduced risk appetite.
The introduction of new regulations such as IFRS 9 will push up the cost of risk for banks, putting some off taking on more lucrative but higher risk exposures.


Libya’s NOC says production to rise as it seeks to revive oil industry

Updated 22 September 2020

Libya’s NOC says production to rise as it seeks to revive oil industry

  • Libya produced around 1.2 million bpd – over 1 percent of global production – before the blockade
  • Libya’s return to the oil market is sustainable

LONDON: Libya’s National Oil Company said it expected oil production to rise to 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) next week, as the OPEC member looks to revive its oil industry, crippled by a blockade since January.
Oil prices fell around 5 percent on Monday, partly due to the potential return of Libyan barrels to a market that’s already grappling with the prospect of collapsing demand from rising coronavirus cases.
Libya produced around 1.2 million bpd — over 1 percent of global production — before the blockade, which slashed the OPEC member’s output to around 100,000 bpd.
NOC, in a statement late on Monday, said it is preparing to resume exports from “secure ports” with oil tankers expected to begin arriving from Wednesday to load crude in storage over the next 72 hours.
As an initial step, exports are set to resume from the Marsa El Hariga and Brega oil terminals, it said.
The Marlin Shikoku tanker is making its way to Hariga where it is expected to load a cargo for trader Unipec, according to shipping data and traders.
Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar said last week his forces would lift their eight-month blockade of oil exports.
NOC insists it will only resume oil operations at facilities devoid of military presence.
Nearly a decade after rebel fighters backed by NATO air strikes overthrew dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya remains in chaos, with no central government.
The unrest has battered its oil industry, slashing production capacity down from 1.6 million bpd.
Goldman Sachs said Libya’s return should not derail the oil market’s recovery, with an upside risk to production likely to be offset by higher compliance with production cuts from other OPEC members.
“We see both logistical and political risks to a fast and sustainable increase in production,” the bank said. It expects a 400,000 bpd increase in Libyan production by December.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, are closely watching the Libya situation, waiting to see if this time Libya’s return to the oil market is sustainable, sources told Reuters.