Friday, 21 March 2014

Kazakhstan increases crude oil export duty

The Kazakhstan government has increased the so-called ‘export customs duty’ (ECD) on crude oil from $60 to $80/ton. This change will take effect on 1 April, according to economy and budget planning minister Yerbolat Dosaev, who unveiled the new export tariff at a ministerial meeting.

The ECD increase should boost this year’s projected government revenue by $2.7 billion. The economy ministry has added $1.6 billion to this total in the form of extra tax income to be derived from the exporting industries’ future profits, which are widely expected to ameliorate after the 20% devaluation of the tenge in February 2014.

The ECD was introduced in May 2008 at the rate of $110/ton at a time when international oil prices were as high as $125/barrel. It was argued that the new duty would enable Kazakhstan to benefit fully from increasingly favourable conditions on global markets as well as its expected stabilising domestic effect.

In January 2009, however, the government scrapped the ECD after oil prices had fallen from their historic highs. As the global market stabilised the ECD was re-introduced in August 2010 at the rate of $20/ton. This was applied to all Kazakhstan-based oil exporters except those whose production-sharing agreements guaranteed stability of the customs regime. In January 2011 the ECD was increased to $40/ton and then again to $60 in April 2013.

The government plans for at least 6% GDP growth by the end of 2014, while also containing annual inflation below a 6–8% cap. The benchmark oil price that serves as the basis for all income and expenditure forecasts has also been increased, from $90 a barrel to $95. Some local analysts have already expressed their scepticism about the latter benchmark, given the possible impact of the crisis in Ukraine on future global oil market stability.

Earlier this month the US administration announced its intention to release around 5 million barrels of crude to the market and cited the need to test the sustainability of the US oil infrastructure after a recent surge of domestic production. Some have seen this, however, as a calculated move as part of Washington’s efforts to punish Moscow for its combative stance on
Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

While this quantity is clearly too small to have any significant impact on oil prices, expanding US domestic production may upset both Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s medium- to long-term price expectations.

For more news and expert analysis about the Caspian region, please see Caspian Focus.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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