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Saudi Arabia reports higher oil revenue
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Aug 14, 2017

Second quarter oil revenue was up nearly 30 percent from last year on the back of general improvements in the energy market, the Saudi government reported.

Saudi Arabia is the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It told OPEC economists last month that production was around 10 million barrels per day, an increase of about a half percent from the average during the second quarter, but still lower than the first quarter.

Saudi Arabia is leading in terms of production cuts outlined in an OPEC-led effort to ease the supply-side strains that pushed oil prices below $30 per barrel last year. Global oil inventories are still above the five-year average and the price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was at $51.70 early Monday.

The Saudi Ministry of Finance said oil revenue for the second quarter was around $269 billion, a growth rate of 28 percent from the same time last year. The government attributed the gains to improved crude oil prices for the global market.

The price for Brent is about $4.40 per barrel, or about 9 percent, higher than this time last year.

Saudi Arabia has adopted a "whatever it takes" stance on the effort to balance the market. Officials issued a joint statement with Iraq last week that restated their full commitment to the OPEC-led effort to trim production until the markets reach a target level that would indicate balance. The official news agency said the kingdom was eager to export petroleum and petrochemicals to Iraq and "increase trade exchange at all levels."

OPEC economists said domestic oil requirements in Saudi Arabia declined 3 percent from last year as natural gas expands in the nation's energy mix. Total revenues, meanwhile, of $820 billion marked an increase of 29 percent from last year. Non-oil revenue was reported at $16 billion.

The Vision 2030 economic agenda aims to boost Saudi Arabia's non-oil revenue and the government aims to spend between $30 billion and $50 billion on renewable energy by 2023, the year by which Riyadh intends to produce around 10 gigawatts of electricity from solar, wind and geothermal power.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammad al-Jadaan said second quarter figures show economic reforms are working.

"These reforms have contributed to creating more non-oil revenues and the improvement of spending efficiency leading to a fiscal balance as a strategic objective in the medium term which is positively reflected on the economy of the homeland and the welfare of its citizens," he said in a statement.

Canada: province hires special counsel to help fight pipeline
Ottawa (AFP) Aug 10, 2017
British Columbia's new social-democratic government hired external counsel Thursday to review a pipeline expansion in Canada's westernmost province, after vowing during a recent election to kill the project. Officials also said they would seek to join a court challenge of the Trans Mountain project and try to revive consultations with affected indigenous groups. That was a key condition of t ... read more

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