Virus pushes up cost of Norway’s oil and gas projects

Equinor’s Johan Sverdrup North Sea oilfield platforms. Norway is Western Europe’s largest oil producer, and the world’s third biggest gas exporter. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 October 2020
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Virus pushes up cost of Norway’s oil and gas projects

  • Ongoing projects affected by pandemic as well as weakening Norwegian crown

OSLO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has interrupted the development of Norway’s offshore oil and gas projects, pushing up costs and postponing startups, the government and oil company Equinor said on Wednesday.

The costs of ongoing projects rose by 13.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.4 billion) from a year ago on an inflation-adjusted basis, government documents showed, as COVID-19 restrictions stalled construction at several fields.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and weakened Norwegian (currency) have negatively impacted some of the projects, but the combined project portfolio is still very resilient,” Equinor said in a separate statement.

Following the delays, Norway’s oil output for next year is now expected to be 2.15 million barrels per day, slightly less than the 2.24 million predicted for 2021 one year ago, the government’s budget showed.

Gas production is expected to be 117 billion cubic meters (bcm), less than 121 bcm forecast a year ago.

Equinor’s Martin Linge oil and gas field is now expected to cost 60.8 billion crowns, up from an estimate of 56.1 billion a year ago, Norway’s 2021 fiscal budget showed.

The company’s Johan Castberg Arctic oilfield, meanwhile, is now expected to cost 53.4 billion crowns, up from 49 billion crowns previously, the government said.

Cost overruns also hit Equinor’s Njord Future and Repsol’s Yme.

In March, the long-delayed Martin Linge development became the first offshore field to be hit by the pandemic when installation work was halted after an employee tested positive for the virus.

Half of the inflation-adjusted cost increase of 3.6 billion crowns for Martin Linge was down to infection control measures, Equinor said.

The pandemic also interrupted construction of the Johan Castberg’s floating production, storage and offloading unit (FPSO) at a yard in Singapore, while the company also discovered technical problems.

Both projects have been delayed by about a year, with Martin Linge now expected to come on stream in the summer of 2021 and Johan Castberg in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The cost of the Njord Future project which aims to produce an extra 175 million barrels of oil equivalent from Njord and its tie-back Hyme also rose and the planned startup date has been delayed until next year.

As a result, several smaller projects, which are planning to use the Njord’s production facilities, such as Neptune Energy’s Fenja, will also be delayed.


Flydubai says expansion plans have been hindered by Boeing delays

Updated 14 sec ago
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Flydubai says expansion plans have been hindered by Boeing delays

DUBAI: Budget carrier flydubai’s fleet expansion plans have been hit by delays to Boeing’s aircraft delivery schedule, the Dubai airline said on Monday.
Flydubai said it is “evaluating its route development plans and potential frequency revision across the network due to a lack of new aircraft deliveries over the next few months.”
The statement added that Boeing’s delivery delays in recent years have placed substantial pressure on the airline and its ability to plan for its projected growth in the wake of strong post-pandemic demand for travel.


Saudi Arabia, Egypt to boost energy cooperation after high-level meeting

Updated 5 min 10 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia, Egypt to boost energy cooperation after high-level meeting

  • Ministers discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Egypt are set to boost energy cooperation following a meeting between top officials to expand ties in petroleum, gas, electricity, renewable energy, and hydrogen. 
On July 21, Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met with Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Karim Badawi and Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mahmoud Esmat at his ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh. 
During the meeting, the ministers discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries, aiming to align their efforts with the shared visions of their leaderships and the ambitions of their peoples, according to a statement from the Saudi Energy Ministry. 


National Housing Co. partners with Korean firm Naver to boost smart city solutions in the Kingdom  

Updated 38 min 49 sec ago
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National Housing Co. partners with Korean firm Naver to boost smart city solutions in the Kingdom  

RIYADH: The Saudi real estate sector is set to embrace advanced technologies after the National Housing Co. partnered with Korean tech firm Naver Corp. to enhance smart city solutions. 

The collaboration, formalized in the presence of Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail, aims to integrate Digital Twin technology, utilizing Naver’s advanced cloud system.  

The technology mirrors real-world entities in a virtual environment, supporting real-time decision-making through data analysis, prediction, and optimization. It will be cloud-based, with a focus on three-dimensional digital modeling. 

This move aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals, aiming to use this technology for urban planning and flood predictions while advancing smart city development.

The integration of Digital Twin technology is part of the Kingdom’s broader strategy to modernize its real estate sector and adopt cutting-edge solutions to enhance urban management and infrastructure efficiency. 

Minister Al-Hogail highlighted the significance of this partnership, stating on X that the deal opens the doors for innovation in digital solutions. “Together, we achieve strategic visions for the municipalities and housing sectors in our relentless pursuit of sustainable smart cities,” he said. 


Oil Updates – prices rise as investors look for signs US rate cuts to begin

Updated 22 July 2024
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Oil Updates – prices rise as investors look for signs US rate cuts to begin

TOKYO: Oil prices rose in early trade on Monday as investors keep a lookout for signs of a rate-cut cycle expected to begin as soon as September, according to Reuters.

Brent crude prices were up 48 cents, or 0.57 percent, at $83.10 a barrel by 2:35 a.m. Saudi time, and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 42 cents, or 0.52 percent, to $80.55.

“Since the June FOMC meeting, inflation and labor market data have signalled that disinflation and labor market rebalancing are in place, which we expect will allow the Fed to begin its interest rate cutting cycle in September,” ANZ Research said in a note.

The US Federal Reserve will next hold a Federal Open Market Committee meeting on interest rates on July 30-31, at which investors expect the Fed to keep the rates unchanged, while looking for any signal of a cut coming later in the year.

On the political front, US President Joe Biden abandoned his reelection bid on Sunday under pressure from fellow Democrats and endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris as the party’s candidate to face Republican Donald Trump in November.

Slower-than-expected economic growth of 4.7 percent for China in the second quarter sparked concerns last week over the country’s demand for oil and continues to weigh on prices.

On Sunday, China released a policy document outlining known ambitions, from developing advanced industries to improving the business environment, with analysts spotting no sign of imminent structural shifts in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The 60-point document’s publication follows last week’s closed-door meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee that takes place roughly every five years. 


Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Updated 22 July 2024
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Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

  • The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will welcome economic policymakers, major technology and artificial intelligence companies, international thought leaders, and heads of international organizations to Riyadh this September as the Global AI Summit returns for its third edition.

The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology — and will attempt to find solutions that “maximize the potential of these transformative technologies for the benefit of humanity,” a statement released Sunday said.

The third edition of the event will be held at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center from Sept. 10 to 12 under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his capacity as chairman of the board of directors at SDAIA, the statement added.

The GAIN Summit will take place amid increasing concerns about the impact of AI technologies and will reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting international efforts aimed at enhancing human welfare in the face of the challenges associated with developing technology.

GAIN 2024 will focus more on AI than its previous editions in 2020 and 2022, with topics including innovation in the sector, key developments shaping a better future for AI, and fostering a supportive environment for human resources in the field.

Other topics include AI at local and global levels, the complementary relationship between humans and AI, business leaders in AI, the relationship between data and applications, GenAI, AI ethics, AI processors and infrastructure, and AI and smart cities.