Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets swelled by nearly SR352 billion in one year to an all time high of SR2,057 billion ($548.5 billion) at the end of 2011 as a result of high oil prices and a sharp rise in the Gulf Kingdom’s crude output, official data showed on Sunday.
It was the biggest annual increase in the assets controlled by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) since 2008, when they rocketed by a whopping SR513 billion mainly because of a 50 per cent rise in crude prices that allowed the country to record its highest fiscal surplus of SR580 billion.
The increase last year was also more than double the assets growth of around SR135 billion through 2010, when they ended the year at SR1,705 billion compared with SR1,570 billion at the end of 2009.
Last year’s rise was mostly in SAMA’s investment in foreign securities, which soared to nearly SR1,437 billion at the end of 2011 from about SR1,181 billion at the end of 2010, SAMA said in its monthly bulletin.
Deposits with banks abroad grew to nearly SR414 billion from SR343 billion in the same period, the report showed.
A surge in oil prices to a record high average of $110 a barrel allied with a one million bpd increase in Saudi Arabia’s crude production to widen its fiscal surplus to nearly SR307 billion in 2011 from SR87 billion in 2011.
The current account of the largest Arab economy and the world’s oil powerhouse also shot up to $156 billion from $69 billion.
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia has just announced a record high budget of SR690 billion for 2012 and analysts expect actual spending to end the year much higher.