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A new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) earned $404 billion in net oil export revenue in 2015 - the lowest levels since 2004.
The figures, based on EIA estimates, show a 46 percent decline in revenues when compared to the same statistic from 2014, when the 12-member bloc earned $753 billion.
OPEC’s revenues have fallen with the drop in global oil prices over the past two years. Since the first major drop in June 2014 - before which Brent stood $112 dollars a barrel - prices have only recovered to $50.30.
The EIA forecasts that OPEC's revenues will fall further to $341 billion in 2016 before partially rebounding to $427 billion in 2017.
The 2015 figures foreshadow a tough fiscal year ahead for the world’s least developed oil and gas exporting countries. Nations such as Algeria and Venezuela depend on revenues from energy exports to import consumer goods for their citizens. In 1980, OPEC governments generated $3,500 in inflation-adjusted revenues per person through oil exports alone. Last year, that figure dropped to just $606.
The scope of the oil pricing crisis’ effect on national economies varies according to the importance of energy exports relative to total revenues. Indonesian oil revenues accounted for five percent of total export revenues last year, whereas almost all of Iraq’s revenues in 2015 came from the energy sector.
The EIA report identified the Persian Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE) as less vulnerable to the bearish energy market due their sizable financial assets.
Two days ago, news broke that the official Qatar Investment Authority made a $622 million investment in the Empire State Reality Trust - the holding company for New York’s Empire State Building. The purchase gave the Qatari government a 9.9 percent stake in one of the Big Apple’s greatest architectural symbols.
OPEC’s less financially-endowed members — Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, in addition to the above-mentioned Algeria and Venezuela — are more exposed to the whims of the oil market due to a lack of effective financial planning, as well as related security issues.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…