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Oil attacks on Saudi: Damage may be partially offset – World Bank

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FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen at the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Hamad l Mohammed/File Photo

The attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last month are expected to impact economic growth this year, the World Bank said in a report.

The report added that the decline could be partially offset by a boost in government spending in the non-oil sector.

Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year is forecast at 0.8 per cent, down from an earlier World Bank estimate of 1.7 per cent in April, pressured by oil production cuts and a worsening global outlook, according to the report.

The World Bank’s estimate is well below Saudi Arabia’s own expectations of around 1.9 per cent GDP growth this year.

Government data showed last month the Saudi economy slowed sharply in the second quarter, paying the price of restraining crude production by more than called for by an OPEC-led supply deal to support oil markets.

Saudi officials have said the Sept. 14 strike would not affect state finances or growth, but investors and analysts said they could have a long-term impact on ambitious plans to diversify the Saudi economy and attract foreign capital.

“The attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September led to a significant supply disruption, which is also expected to impact 2019 growth,” said the World Bank.

The attacks initially halved the kingdom’s crude production.

The World Bank added, however, that the slowdown is likely to be partially offset by a boost to the non-oil sector coming from higher government spending this year.

Riyadh blamed adversary Iran for the strikes, a charge Tehran denied.

Rating agency Fitch downgraded Saudi Arabia’s credit rating to A from A+ last month, citing rising geopolitical and military tensions in the Gulf after the attacks.


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