1. Oil prices: Oil prices rose on 23 March, pushed up by Saudi statements that OPEC and Russian led production curbs that were introduced in 2017 will need to be extended into 2019 in order to tighten the market. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.09 a barrel, up 79 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their previous close. Brent crude futures were at $69.64 per barrel, up 73 cents, or 1.1 percent.

2. ARAMCO IPO delayed: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said the initial public offering (IPO) of state oil company Aramco could be delayed until early 2019, pushing back a central plank of his plan to reform the country’s economy. The sale of a 5 percent stake in the company could take place at the end of 2018 or early 2019, depending on market conditions, Prince Mohammed told Reuters in an interview. Until recently, Saudi officials had insisted the IPO was “on track, on time” for 2018, but three months into the year that deadline is looking harder to meet.

The prince also said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was seeking a longer-term alliance with Russia to help manage oil supplies, following a more than yearlong pact to eliminate a surplus. The exporter group is seeking an accord that could last 10 or 20 years, bin Salman said.

 

April 3, 2018

About the Author

Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974. Early in his career, he was posted in a number of West Asian countries such as Kuwait, Iraq and Yemen and later, between 1987 and 1990, he was Consul General in Jeddah. He also held positions in the Indian missions in New York, London and Pretoria. He served as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (2000-03; 2010-11); Oman (2003-04), and the UAE (2007-10). He was also Additional Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2004-06. In July 2011, the Saudi Government conferred on him the King Abdul Aziz Medal First Class for his contribution to the promotion of Indo – Saudi relations. After retirement from the Foreign Service in 2011, he worked in the corporate sector in Dubai for three years. He is now a full-time academic and holds the Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University. He has published three books: Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates (2005), Children of Abraham at War: the Clash of Messianic Militarisms (2010), and The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions after the Arab Spring (2013). He writes and lectures frequently on Political Islam, the politics and economics of West Asia and the Indian Ocean and energy security issues.