Gulf oil prospects improve, Iraq seen surpassing projections

Monday, March 1, 2004

The United States is projecting that Iraqi oil exports revenues will significantly exceed expectations.

U.S. officials said Iraqi oil exports will garner $13.5 billion in revenues in 2004. They said this would amount to $1.5 billion more than projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs John Taylor said Iraqi oil exports would represent a major element in the improvement of the nation's economy. Taylor said Iraqi markets were thriving although security remains a problem.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Iraqi oil exports would yield $12 billion in 2004, Middle East Newsline reported. The office said Iraqi oil revenues from 2004 through 2007 would reach $69 billion.

Meanwhile, Qatar expects that it will record its best year ever in natural gas sales.

Qatari officials said gas sales for the year that begins on March 30 will yield 5.8 billion Qatari riyals, or $1.58 billion. They said this would result in the largest budget surplus in the emirate in more than 20 years.

The Finance Ministry has reported a budget surplus for the fourth year in a row despite a sharp increase in government expenditure. In all, the Qatari Central Bank reported, the emirate has accumulated a surplus of $4.7 billion since 2000.

Qatar has been the only Gulf Cooperation Council state to record successive budget deficits since 2000. The emirate's energy revenues were expected to significantly increase as Qatar completes the development of the giant North Field.

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