New MENA Monthly: Reform momentum survives Covid

A slow pace toward a new deal with Iran is encouraging for oil markets, with some forecasts now expecting a steady price recovery over 2021 to possibly hit the USD 70 range. This would be well into the “recovery sweet spot” range for GCC oil exporters.  With Saudi Arabia still holding the million-barrel joker card, we feel this recovery has legs, including a likely release of a further 500k bpd at the upcoming OPEC+ meeting on March 4th. 

The big question is whether, from the international and regional communities’ perspectives, the new deal with Iran will be the same, better or worse than the previous deal, which was by no means comprehensive, in terms of Iran’s role in the world. The same question obviously also applies from Iran’s perspective. We see the involvement of Qatar as an important new factor which could help address Iran’s thorny regional dossiers in ways that were not tackled by the original JCPOA. Iran’s ballistic missile program is another source of angst both regionally and internationally, and the jury is out as to whether this will feature in the new deal in any way.

In this MENA monthly, we also discuss the new wave of reforms sweeping over Saudi Arabia. Policymakers’ strong commitment to plans under Vision 2030 is expected to support the kingdom’s favourable risk-reward trade-off and help cultivate the trust of global investors. This is perhaps why bold moves are being made, such as the requirement for Saudi regional headquarters by 2024.

We also provide insight into Libya, Sudan, and Egypt. Additionally, as always, we provide an update on the latest Sino-MENA developments. In our Energy Outlook, we share analysis on the oil and gas industry and the events that will determine the trajectory of energy markets in 2021.

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