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3 Mar, 2009 08:07

Focus to remain on diversification when oil price turns

Experts say cut-backs in crude oil exploration and investment could see energy costs soar again and that, when this comes, Russia should again focus on managing the upturn to diversify its economy.

The curse of resources. Some economists say Russia has suffered as well as gained from surging oil prices in the last few years.

A Rising national currency – a recent a headache – and an undiversified economy which is still a problem.

However, Michael Calvey, from Baring Vostok Capital Partners says Russia has done well in syphoning off the excessive profits of the commodity boom into special funds.

“I think that overall, Russia’s government has had a very successful policy of fiscal management of the oil price windfall. I mean, its hard to criticize the government for what they did, you know, up until maybe six months ago. It was almost a perfect execution.”

Many think, other oil majors such as the United Arab Emirates have done even better – becoming a Middle East hub, with developed infrastructure and free trade areas.

Some Gulf Arabs say Russia should look at their experience. Khalid Al Zayani, Chairman of Al Zayani investments believes Bahrain’s diversification has added to its economic stability

“The majority of your eggs in one basket could lead to shocks. In the case of Bahrain because we have lessened our dependence on oil our economy is far more stable than many of our neighbours.”

Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Investment Company believes effective management could underpin Russia’s economic future.

“The ability to mine some of the returns of those strategic minerals and use it to diversify the economy, use it to build a knowledge based economy is what will ultimately put Russia in the drivers seat in a very solid international position.”

Curse or blessing, another round of rising oil prices could soon be hitting the world economy. Michael Calvey, from Baring Vostok Capital Partners, says its simply a matter of when.

“All of the ingredients for a major bull market are there, because you have a combination of a complete collapse in oil spending worldwide. And the fact that, you know, that the fields that are being discovered worldwide are getting smaller and smaller. But its really inevitable, based on whats happening that there will be another cycle. And really what we don’t know is when it going to happen.”