Poor Countries Borrowed Billions Using Their Oil As Collateral And Are Now Struggling To Pay

Smaller countries that have taken out billions of dollars in loans that they have promised to pay back in oil are starting to fall behind on their payments.

The deals are structured so that countries are advanced money from trading houses that will be paid back in future oil shipments. These types of loans have become popular with smaller African and Middle Eastern nations as the only way to raise money. But when oil prices tank – as they did over the last several weeks – the loans become difficult to repay. 

As the price of oil plunges, countries have to divert more oil to keep up with their payments. Now the Kurdistan region in Northern Iraq is having trouble repaying a $500 million loan from Glencore.

U.S. investors find themselves with exposure to $500 million in Kurdistan-based loans, as U.S. pension funds bought half a billion dollars worth of notes “known as Oilflow SPV 1 DAC linked to the loans”. Glencore has said it plans on formally restructuring the deal.

These notes have plunged in value due to the potential restructuring, falling to 80 cents on the dollar and a yield of more than 40% (the yield at par was 12%). 

Glencore, along with Trafigura Group, are also together in talks to restructure a total of $1.5 billion in oil-for-cash loans from the Republic of Congo. It had been trying to restructure its

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