Saudi Arabia Posts Third Quarter Budget Surplus, First In Over Two Years

Flames are seen at the production facility of Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

Saudi Arabia recorded a budget surplus of 6.7 billion riyals ($1.79 billion) in the third quarter this year, as higher oil prices fuelled its first quarterly surplus in over two years.

The world's largest oil exporter saw revenues of 243.4 billion riyals in the quarter, with income from oil sales increasing 60% to 147.9 billion riyals.

But non-oil revenue contracted 22% to 95.4 billion riyals, according to a finance ministry report that said the quarterly public expenditure was down 8% year-on-year to 236.7 billion riyals.

It was the kingdom's first quarterly surplus since the first quarter in 2019, according to ministry data.

Oil prices have rallied to multi-year highs with global crude futures climbing 4.5% in the quarter, helped by a decision by OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to maintain a planned output increase rather than raising it on global supply concerns.

Earlier on Sunday Saudi Arabian state oil producer Aramco (2222.SE) said its third-quarter net profit more than doubled, boosted by higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, beating analysts' forecasts.

The kingdom had last year introduced measures such as the tripling of a value-added tax and removal of a cost of living allowance to replenish state coffers depleted by the historic slide in crude prices and as the pandemic hit non-oil revenues.

The budget deficit had ballooned to over 11% of gross domestic product last year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. The IMF expects Saudi Arabia to bring down its fiscal deficit to 4.2% of GDP this year.

($1 = 3.7508 riyals)

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