Saudi Arabia posts $15.3 billion budget surplus in Q1 on rising oil prices

Saudi Arabia recorded a budget surplus of 57.49 billion riyals ($15.33 billion) in the first three months of 2022, the finance ministry said, supported by a 58 percent increase in oil revenues as prices rose.

The data came a few hours after Saudi Aramco reported an increase in net profit of nearly 82 percent, broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts, helped by strong oil prices and volumes.

The world’s largest crude oil exporter posted oil revenues of 183.7 billion riyals in the first quarter, up from 116.6 billion riyals over the same period in 2021, the data shows.

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Brent crude prices rose nearly 70 percent in the first quarter to USD 107.91 a barrel as of late March 2021, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated concerns over oil supplies.

Despite the increase in oil revenues, the Saudi state’s spending remained modest, up 4 percent from a year earlier to 220.47 billion riyals in the first quarter.

“Saudi spending remains cautious year on year despite the marked increase in oil revenues, but we do expect more support to the economy through the PIF,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, referring to the sovereign wealth fund.

The kingdom increasingly relied on the PIF, with assets exceeding $600 billion, and other state entities to fuel an ambitious spending boost.

The kingdom’s total revenues were 277.9 billion riyals in the first quarter, up 36 percent year on year, and non-oil revenues rose 7 percent to 94.26 billion riyals in the quarter.

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