MENA in US$740bn 5-year energy spending spree

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is likely to spend US$165bn
MENA in US$740bn 5-year energy spending spree
(Picture for illustrative purposes only)
By Claire Valdini
Sun 07 Oct 2012 11:42 AM

Oil producers in the Middle East and North Africa plan to invest US$740bn on energy projects over the next five years, with Saudi Arabia leading the way, Bloomberg reported, citing a report from the Arab Petroleum Investments Corp (Apicorp).

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, plans to spend US$165bn, followed by the UAE at US$107bn over the period, Apicorp said.

Algeria overtook Qatar and Iran as the third-largest investor, with plans to spend US$71bn, while Iran has scaled back its investments to US$68bn.

"Tighter international sanctions, and the retreat of foreign companies, have ended up taking a toll on Iran's elusive energy investment program," Apicorp said.

On Saturday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised Gulf oil exporters for their help in stabilising the global economy by managing oil prices, despite complaints by some Western countries that energy costs are still too high.

"It gives me an opportunity to thank the GCC countries for their ... stabilising role in the global economy because of the good monitoring and good management of oil prices ..." the International Monetary Fund's managing director said.

Lagarde was speaking at a news conference after meeting with senior officials of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups six wealthy oil-exporting countries - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Since OPEC ministers last met in June, Brent crude oil prices have surged about 20 percent and have hovered around $112-$117 a barrel since mid-August, despite fragile economic growth in many consuming countries.

Last month, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which represents 28 importing countries said high oil prices were a concern for these nations.

In an effort to cap high oil prices, sources told Reuters, the United States is considering an emergency oil stocks release. Other members of the IEA, such as France and Great Britain, could also join the move.

The Gulf states have managed to maintain high production levels, making up for lower supplies from Iran because of sanctions, and outages in the North Sea.

Top oil-exporter Saudi Arabia's supply remained steady at 9.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, off multi-decade highs of over 10 million bpd earlier in the year.

The big three Gulf OPEC producers - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE - collectively increased supply by around 400,000 bpd thanks to a 600,000 bpd jump in Kuwaiti production to 3 million bpd.

Earlier this year, GCC members pledged billions of dollars in additional financial resources to he IMF, and they have promised billions more in aid to poorer Arab states since last year's uprisings in the region.

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