Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets gained a whopping R428 billion ($114 billion) in the 2012 after the Kingdom netted its highest ever income from oil exports.
Oil prices averaged above $110 a barrel in 2012, nearly 50 per cent above the breakeven crude price needed by the world’s dominant oil exporter and largest Arab economy to balance its budget. The Kingdom’s crude output also climbed to its highest annual average of 9.8 million bpd, nearly 500,000 bpd above 2011.
From around SR2,057.8 billion at the end of 2011, the foreign assets of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), central bank, soared to an all time high of nearly SR2,485 billion at the end of 2012.
.The increase was in most components of the funds, with deposits with banks abroad surging from SR414 billion to a record high of SR576.4 billion. Investment in foreign securities, which account for nearly two thirds of the total assets, grew from SR1,427.8 billion to SR1,670 billion, their highest level.
Experts said the sharp rise in the assets last year was a result of a massive fiscal surplus recorded by the Gulf Kingdom through 2012, when it stood at SR387 billion, the second largest fiscal balance after the 2008’s record SR581 surplus.
Last year’s asset gain was the second largest rise since 2008, when they rocketed by a whopping SR513 billion mainly because of a 50 per cent rise in crude prices. The assets growth in 2012 surpassed the 2011 increase of SR352 billion and was more than double the assets increase 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.
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced a record high budget of SR820 billion for 2013 and analysts expect actual spending to end the year much higher as was the case in previous years. Revenues were put at SR829 billion, leaving a budgeted surplus of SRnine billion.
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