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  • Oil and gas in the capitals


    Dr. A. F. Alhajji, Contributing Editor, Middle East

    If the recent declining trend in oil prices continues, the oil-producing countries in the Middle East are heading toward a crisis similar to those of the mid-1980s and late 1990s. Government officials thought that their accumulated foreign currency reserves would shield them during periods of low prices. They are shocked by the sudden, steep and painful decline in oil prices. They did not expect a financial crisis that would force them to bail out their own banks and provide billions of dollars in aid to local businesses and populations. The oil and gas business in the region has started to contract. Already Saudi Aramco is rethinking several long-planned upstream projects, including multibillion-dollar developments at Manifa, Karan and Shaybah Fields, according to Khalid Buraik, the company’s executive director of affairs. And on Nov. 6, Saudi Aramco and ConocoPhillips announced they would halt bidding for construction of the planned 400,000-bpd export refinery at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, citing the contracting market.

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