Saudi Budget 2021 Commentary: Revenue projections ‘reasonable’ based on oil prices

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al-Rajhi Capital. (Supplied)
Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al-Rajhi Capital. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 December 2020

Saudi Budget 2021 Commentary: Revenue projections ‘reasonable’ based on oil prices

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al-Rajhi Capital. (Supplied)
  • Expects government oil revenue to range from SR400 billion to SR500 billion next year depending on Aramco’s dividends to the government

RIYADH:  The Saudi government’s 2020 fiscal deficit came in at SR298 billion ($79.5 billion) and is forecast to fall to SR141 billion next year. The government expects SR849 billion of revenues in 2021, which is reasonable based on a Brent oil price of $48 a barrel, said Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al-Rajhi Capital.

He added that he expected government oil revenue to range from SR400 billion to SR500 billion next year depending on Aramco’s dividends to the government (i.e., $45 billion to $75 billion in total dividends). And estimated non-oil revenue to be about SR400 billion, based on increased VAT (a contribution of SR88 billion), reforms, higher private-sector growth, and Public Investment Fund (PIF)/Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) investment returns.

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With strict discipline from OPEC+ members oil prices could surprise on the upside, as the capital expenditures in the oil sector have dropped materially which could lower long-term supply, he concluded.

Al-Sudairi said he believed even while much of the 2021/22 deficits will be funded by debt, the 2020 Debt/GDP ratio — at 34.4 percent — remains reasonable compared with debt levels among other advanced economies and emerging and middle-income countries (63.7 percent), especially after the surge witnessed following coronavirus-related stimulus efforts. The government expects debt to increase to SR1,026 billion by 2023 from SR854 billion in 2020.

Government expenditure, though forecast to be down by 7 percent year on year in 2021, is relatively less important than it has been in the past, as regulatory changes — such as increased women’s employment, e-governance, the opening up of tourism, mortgage subsidies, PIF mega projects — can have cascading benefits that do not necessarily require high direct spending by the government, he added.

• Mazen Al-Sudairi is head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al-Rajhi Capital.


SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors
Updated 23 October 2021

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

RIYADH: The Saudi Green Initiative is a great opportunity to create new ways of managing our industries, said Mohammed Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister for oil and gas.

Speaking at a panel discussed titled “Carbon-intensive industries: Transitioning fast, at scale” held in Riyadh on Saturday, he said the circular carbon economy is at the heart of the initiative.

He said before the launch of the green initiative, the Kingdom already embarked on an ambitious drive to improve energy efficiency in its industrial sector and achieved encouraging results. He said the chemicals, steel, and cement industries in the Kingdom have reduced emissions by about 4 million tonnes per annum.

The assistant minister said the new initiative offers several investment opportunities in recycling and waste management.

For example, he added, SABIC has already built a plant to capture 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, the gas is then purified and used to produce more chemicals and for many other purposes in different sectors, Alibrahim said.

He said the Saudi Green Initiative and the circle of carbon economy allow us to utilize carbon as a resource rather than looking at it as a problem.

“We have targets to product green hydrogen and blue hydrogen to convert it into blue ammonia, we already shipped ammonia to Japan last year and and we have a plan to expand on that.”

“We don’t want to focus on a certain type of technology.”

Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, said: “The pathway is ultimately green hydrogen, the real need is energy and even that will be needing electricity, basic ingredient is already available.” 

He called on all stakeholders to create a supporting ecosystem.

“We can really transform industrial consumption when we bring hydrogen costs down to below $2 per kilo and it is achievable.”

Jasper Graf von Hardenberg, co-founder and group CEO of Daystar, US, said: “Saudi Arabia has bigger responsibility, it can become the world No.1 producer of green hydrogen.”

Morten Dyrholm, GSVP for MarCom, Sustainability and Public Affairs, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Denmark, said: “With this plan Saudi Arabia is placing itself at the center and we want to be part of this journey.”

“As companies we need to take responsibilities with targets of net zero emissions through production.”

“Now with all policies coming up in Saudi Arabia there are signals that the Kingdom is heading to become more sustainable.”


NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO
Updated 23 October 2021

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

The city of NEOM will be ready by 2024 to receive tourists and investors, the CEO of the project has announced.

“We spent two years transforming the vision into a strategy, as this strategy concerns all sectors of NEOM,” Nadhmi Al-nasr said in an interview with Asharq.

"We finished last year with strategies, then moved on to planning and implementation and now we have entered the implementation phase,” Al-nasr added.

NEOM is set to is located on the Red Sea coast in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, and is set to be totally powered by renewable energy sources.


Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough
Updated 23 October 2021

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Riyadh: Azerbaijan believes OPEC+ is helping to stabilize the world’s oil market with its cautious decision to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day from November. 

Speaking to Arab News, the country’s energy minister warned that it is gas prices that are more volatile thanks to shortages of the energy source in Europe. 

Parviz Shahbazov said the members of OPEC+ — which includes Azerbaijan — are all in agreement about the restrained oil production rise, despite calls from the US to ramp up output.

He said that the reason “nobody talks about oil issues” is because “there is a balance in the market and this balance has been provided by OPEC+”.

He added: “It can be a little bit higher or lower, it is not so important for producing countries as well as for consuming countries because the most important thing is the stability in the oil market.”

The minister said the issues related to the increasing price of gas might continue past winter. 

“Most probably we will still have this crisis in winter time, I don’t know how severe will it be but as winter is coming and the weather is getting colder — the winter is going to be quite severe in Europe — there can be shortages of gas because gas storages are not filled before the winter season,” said Shahbazov.


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’

Updated 23 October 2021

Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


CAIRO: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan left for a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to attend the launch of the “Middle East Green Initiative Summit” in Riyadh, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

Khan left with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, and Malik Amin Aslam, PM’s adviser on climate change. 

“An initiative of the (Saudi) crown prince, the summit is the first of its kind in the Middle East region,” the statement said.

The Prime Minister Office said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had extended the invitation to the premier to attend the event on Oct. 25.

Khan, who made Pakistan a “Champions for Nature”, will share his perspective on the challenges faced by developing countries due to climate change, the statement said. 

He will also highlight Pakistan’s experience of launching “nature-based solutions” to address environmental challenges.


Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

RIYADH: Youngsters in Saudi Arabia are working "day and night" to deliver environmental changes in the Kingdom, the country's minister of energy has said as he praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's leadership.

Speaking at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Saturday, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman reserved special praise for the country's youth.

Addressing the event in Riyadh, he said: “Whatever you see today in Saudi Arabia, whatever you see tomorrow in Saudi Arabia, is not the work of myself or my generation or the generations that just preceded me or the generation that just came after me, I am empowered by a young leader who has the vision and he is the owner of that vision, Vision 2030."

The minister highlighted the influence of the Kingdom’s vision on its youth, saying: “The empowerment has spread in Saudi Arabia to the many youngsters that you saw in the gallery and the many youngsters that are working day and night delivering, not for my future, but for their own future and I’m proud to say that in Saudi Arabia, it’s not the men in Saudi Arabia, it’s actually the women and men of Saudi Arabia that will deliver the future that we are all aspiring for.”