Monday, July 20, 2015

20/7/15: Of 'Break-Even' Oil Prices & Russia

An interesting chart via Deutsche Bank Research putting break-even (fiscal budget) figures on oil prices for major oil producers:

Which puts Russian break-even at USD105 pbl.

Reality is: Russia has capacity to increase oil output further and has done so already (note that it is now world's largest oil producer). It can also raise some other exports volumes, though general global conditions are not exactly supportive of this. Which underpins revenue side of the budgetary balance somewhat.

Meanwhile, Russian Government own budgetary estimates put break-even price of crude at around USD80-85 pbl, not USD105 pbl, closer to UAE, than to Oman.

Worse, for Deutsche, Russian budget is expressed in rubles, not USD, which means that FX valuation of the Ruble to a basket of currencies (Russian exports are not all priced in USD) co-determines the break-even price. Moderating (albeit still very high) inflation and EUR trend, compared to USD trend, suggest falling 'fiscal break-even' price of oil for Russia.

There are too many variables to attempt to estimate effective and accurate 'break-even' price for oil for Russia.

What is, however, clear is that Russian current account (external balance) is in black and it is improving, not deteriorating. Latest Balance of Payments data shows current account surplus of almost USD20 billion in 2Q 2015. Over 12 months through June 2015, current account surplus is at 4% of GDP. The driver here: decline in imports (down 40% in dollar terms in 2Q 2015 y/y) outpacing drop in exports (down just under 30% y/y). In January-June 2015, trade surplus was USD70 billion (USD210 billion in exports, USD140 billion in imports).

Balance of payments is also being supported to the upside by a decline in capital outflows. 2Q 2015 capital outflows amounted to ca USD20 billion, predominantly comprising banks repayment of maturing foreign debt (remember, this improves banks' balancesheets and deleverages the economy). However, direct investment from abroad into Russian non-fianncial corporations rose over the 2Q 2015, resulting in an increase in foreign debt held by the non-financial sector.

Overall, Russian Central Bank shows foreign debt position at ca USD560 billion (or 30% of GDP) at the end of 2Q 2015 - basically unchanged on 1Q 2015 and down from USD730 billion at the end of 2Q 2014.

And another reminder to fiscalistas:

  • Russian public (Government) external debt currently stands at USD35 billion. 
  • State-controlled banks hold further USD90 billion in external debt (total banking sector external debt is USD150 billion and 60% of that is held by state-owned banks).
  • State-controlled NFCs firms hold ca 40% of USD360 billion foreign debt written against Russian NFCs, or USD144 billion. 
  • Accounting for cross-holdings and direct equity-linked debt, net foreign debt that has to be repaid at maturity or refinanced by NFCs and Banks owned by the Russian Government is probably around USD150-160 billion. 

Sizeable, but less than 12% of GDP even after including the official public debt and state-owned enterprises debts.

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