Bahrain to stick to diversification effort despite oil find, says minister

Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed Alzayani also said he one day hopes for a common GCC currency
A recent analysis from Moody’s noted that Bahrain oil find “could stimulate private investment in the country’s energy sector in the near term, and in the medium-term could increase government and oil and gas related revenue and reduce the country’s fiscal and current account deficit.”
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 10 May 2018 07:49 AM

Bahrain will “stick to the course” in its diversification efforts despite the recent discovery of a vast oil field off the country’s west coast, according to the country’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.

Speaking at the Gateway Gulf Investor Forum in the Bahraini capital of Manama on Wednesday, Minister Zayed Alzayani said that while the discovery is “a gift from God” that will improve the country’s oil and gas sector, the country will “need to use the additional revenue from it to boost other sectors of the economy.

“What we found in the recent discovery is something additional, and it will no doubt have a positive impact on growing our GDP, and there will no doubt be more contribution from the oil and gas,” he said.

“But I think we should act wisely to use the revenues generated by this find to develop our economy and diversify it even further, by reducing national debt, by investing in human capital, health services and education.

“The most undersold asset we have in Bahrain are the Bahrainis, and we don’t market them often enough,” he added. “What makes this economy is strong and growing is the people from Bahrain and the embracing of expatriates that come to Bahrain.”

The Baharain minister of oil, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, said that they "still aren't making any projections as far as production" of the find.

A recent analysis from Moody’s noted that the find “could stimulate private investment in the country’s energy sector in the near term, and in the medium-term could increase government and oil and gas related revenue and reduce the country’s fiscal and current account deficit.”

In 2017, hydrocarbon-related revenue accounted for 75 percent of government revenue, significantly less than the 87 percent recorded in 2013.

In his remarks, Alzayani also said that he hopes that one day to see a “borderless” GCC unified by a single currency.

“We are missing out on a lot of inter-GCC trade because of delays and bureaucracy that really we don't need,” he said.

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