Opec reports record high in petroleum exports

21 August 2013

Export revenues reached $1.26 trillion in 2012, but likely to fall this year on lower crude prices

Opec booked record revenues for the export of petroleum in 2012, as Gulf exporters took advantage of a drop in sales from Iran, according to new figures released by the 12-member bloc.

Opec, which is dominated by countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, reported total petroleum export revenues of $1.26 trillion – including crude natural gas liquids (NGL) and oil products – representing a 9.2 per cent increase on 2011.

Revenues were more than double those recorded during crisis-hit 2009, when Opec posted a total of just $625bn.

Last year’s gains were underpinned by a record average Brent crude price of $112 a barrel, which was a marginal increase on the year before.

However, this year has seen a drop in crude prices, which hit a year-to-date low of $97 on 17 April. While there has been a steady recovery since then, the Washington-based Energy Information Administration (EIA) has forecast an average Brent crude price of $106 a barrel for 2013, dropping further to $100 in 2014.

As a consequence, Opec petroleum export revenues are likely to dip from the 2012 record over the next few years.

Opec revenue gains in 2012 were far from evenly distributed, with Opec statistics showing Iran’s petroleum revenues dropped 12 per cent in 2012 to $101bn. Since last year, Tehran has been hit by new US and EU sanctions aimed at crippling its oil exports, leading to a drop in export volumes and much of its crude being discounted as tankers became more difficult to insure.

Traditionally Opec’s second-largest exporter after Saudi Arabia, last year its Gulf rivals the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait overtook the Islamic Republic in terms of export revenues.

UAE revenues rose 6 per cent to $118bn, Qatar was up 11 per cent to $116bn, while Kuwait increased 17 per cent – breaking the hundred-billion mark for the first time – to $112bn. Saudi Arabia maintained the top position with a 5 per cent rise to $336bn.

In Africa, which has four Opec members, revenues were up with the exception of Algeria. The North African country’s petroleum revenues slipped 6 per cent as weaker US demand hit the price of its Sahara Blend benchmark crude while, according to figures from UK oil major BP, its production decline marginally.

Algeria’s energy sector struggled with chronic underinvestment, which comes into sharp focus when its export revenues decline in spite of world-record crude prices.

Libya’s export revenues recovered to the highest level since 2008, as its production ramped up after its 2011 civil war. The country posted petroleum export revenues of $60bn, representing a more than three-fold increase from 2011 and a significant rise from the two preceding years.

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