As softening oil prices lower fiscal and external surpluses across the GCC countries, the UAE and Qatar are likely to face the least impact of the headwinds, a report said on Wednesday.
According to BNP Paribas, UAE and Qatar will be able to maintain external financing surpluses even if crude drops to $80 a barrel. Oil prices are likely to soften to $96 a barrel on average this year, compared to $103 in 2022, the report said.
“Qatar and the UAE aside, we estimate the rest of the region would require oil close to $100 a barrel or above to restore an external financing surplus,” the report added.
Should oil prices fall below $80, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain may need to borrow to fill up their current or fiscal account gaps, the report cautioned.
The anticipated fall in oil prices may result in a drop in income for the GCC region, but the countries in the bloc will still maintain healthy surpluses, with Qatar leading the pack at 7.2 per cent of GDP.
“In the investment-grade space, Qatar and Saudi Arabia belly sectors trade marginally cheaper than their current ratings, although Qatar can better withstand the impact of lower hydrocarbon prices on its budget in 2023, in our view,” the report added.
“Among the high-yielders, Bahrain trades more expensive relative to the rating than Oman. However, we think Oman’s fundamentals are stronger and offer more resilience to lower oil prices, it has a stronger credit rating and market goodwill on the back of its asset-liability management exercise.”