Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality

Saudi Arabia is pursuing carbon neutrality with a multi-pronged approach that touches on everything from transportation to energy. (SPA)
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Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality

  • The Kingdom is actively contributing to offsetting emissions through a comprehensive carbon credit program

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has emerged as a key player when it comes to environmental responsibility, setting ambitious targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions via carbon credit offsets.

At the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s environmental initiatives is the dynamic approach to carbon neutrality. The Kingdom is determined to not only reduce its carbon footprint but also actively contribute to offsetting emissions through a comprehensive carbon credit program.

In an interview with Arab News, Louis Corapi, chief financial officer at Gulf Cryo, a Dubai-based gas firm, shed light on the significance of this initiative, following the company’s launch of a carbon capture and utilization facility in Rabigh.

“Through Vision 2030 and the 2060 commitment to carbon neutrality, Saudi Arabia set clear sustainability goals. Carbon credits are an important component of this strategy. Having an exchange is itself a signal to companies that this commitment is about action and requires broad participation,” Corapi said.

He added: “Secondly, credits will need to be independently verified to be counted. This field is still developing, but we’re confident that it will help to stratify the most and least effective projects.”

Corapi further added that the assignment of dollar values to carbon credits represents a transformative shift in incentivizing sustainability initiatives for companies. By attaching a monetary value to these credits, businesses gain a financial mechanism to support projects that might face challenges in traditional boardroom approvals. 

“We also recognize that there are industries that are both hard to abate and vital to global economies,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing carbon neutrality with a multi-pronged approach that touches on everything from transportation to energy.

The Kingdom realizes how critical it is to actively pursue offsetting measures in addition to actively reducing its own emissions.

“What’s less discussed is that there are also many industries that require carbon dioxide as a key component to their manufacturing process. That started to change in 2014 when Gulf Cryo, together with our partner Equate, started a carbon capture plant in Kuwait,” Corapi explained.

He added: “We just commissioned a new CO2 capture plant in Petro Rabigh and are constructing the plant at Ma’aden. Together these plants will capture over 1,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per day which means 1,000 tonnes per day of fossil fuel burning is permanently stopped.”

For many years, carbon dioxide emissions have been removed and stored using carbon capture utilization and storage methods, which also enhance the quality of natural gas.

In addition to ensuring fossil fuels satisfy the world’s pressing energy demands, carbon capture simultaneously lowers emission levels and provides a means of assisting in the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Saudi Arabia declared a target of 44 million tonnes of carbon capture year by 2035, setting a high standard for emission reduction.

By 2027, Aramco and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy hope to build a hub in Jubail with a 9 million tonne annual storage capacity.

“Today, projects are only viable when there is a clear end user for the CO2.  As long as businesses continue to evaluate investments with classical financial models, decisions are delayed, and emissions continue unabated,” Corapi said.

Furthermore, when asked for his opinion on what could be done better to implement carbon credit offset strategies, Corapi noted that “there is so much more to do, and that we don’t have time to waste,” adding: “We’ve demonstrated that effective technologies exist, but equipment is expensive to install.” 

He went on to say: “Today, projects are only viable when there is a clear end user for the CO2.  As long as businesses continue to evaluate investments with classical financial models, decisions are delayed, and emissions continue unabated.” 

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Saudi Arabia declared a target of 44 million tonnes of carbon capture year by 2035, setting a high standard for emission reduction. By 2027, Aramco and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy hope to build a hub in Jubail with a 9 million tonne annual storage capacity.

Corapi further emphasized that governments have the ability to influence investment decisions in sustainability by introducing new incentives. By strategically implementing policies, governments can sway the choices made by investors and businesses towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options.

“In coordination with other countries across the region, decisions are needed on what standard credits will be certified to and experts are needed to verify the effectiveness of local projects,” Corapi explained.

Additionally, he highlighted that Saudi Arabia is actively pursuing a leadership role in the realm of sustainability through a comprehensive and proactive approach.

According to Corapi, the Kingdom achieves this “through its publicly stated commitments, forums and action platforms it hosts and participates in, to bring different interests together, funding sources it makes available, and openness to ideas from concerned individuals, international organizations, business and government agencies.”

He said: “Saudi Arabia is working hard to establish a leadership position in sustainability and to urgently implement actions that will make a real difference.” 




The new carbon capture and utilization facility further steps up Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability efforts. (Supplied)

The new carbon capture and utilization facility, a collaborative project between Petro Rabigh and Gulf Cryo — the first of its kind in the western region of Saudi Arabia dedicated to the merchant market and the second overall in the Kingdom — further steps up Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability efforts.

The plant, which opened on Dec. 21, resulted from a long-term strategic partnership inked in March 2022 between the two companies to develop Petro Rabigh’s mono ethylene glycol facility in the Red Sea town of Rabigh.

The newly launched facility can directly capture 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day from the MEG plant.  It is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes annually, achieving an 85 percent reduction in its total annual carbon footprint. 

The plant will process the captured carbon dioxide to a high-purity food-grade level and transport it in liquid form for reuse. 

“This landmark project anchors our leading position in CCUS solutions in the region and marks our first carbon capture project in the Kingdom,” said Abdul Salam Al-Mazro, vice chairman of Gulf Cryo, in a statement.

He added: “It underscores the importance of managing the full CO2 value chain. We reduce emissions at source while utilizing the recovered CO2 as a vital resource to help decarbonize supply chains of various industries.”

Petro Rabigh will utilize a portion of this carbon dioxide stream internally, while Gulf Cryo will supply the remainder to various industries across the Kingdom.


Oil creeps back up after three days of losses

Updated 23 May 2024
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Oil creeps back up after three days of losses

Oil prices crept up on Thursday, clawing back some of the previous three days’ losses.

The gains were made despite the US Federal Reserve entertaining a further tightening of interest rates if inflation remains sticky, a move that could hurt oil demand.
Brent crude futures were up 92 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $82.82 a barrel by 1317 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 97 cents, or 1.3 percent, higher at $78.54. Both benchmarks fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday for their third straight day of losses.

Saudi crude exports
Saudi Arabia’s crude exports reached 6.41 million barrels per day in March, according to an analysis from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative.
This figure increased by 96,000 bpd, or 1.52 percent, compared to the previous month, marking a nine-month high. Furthermore, the data indicated that the Kingdom’s crude production fell to 8.97 million bpd, reflecting a monthly decrease of 0.42 percent.
This can be linked to the voluntary oil production cuts adopted by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+. Saudi Arabia announced in March the extension of its 1 million bpd cut, initially implemented in July 2023, until the end of the second quarter of 2024.
The Ministry of Energy said that the Kingdom’s production will be approximately 9 million bpd until the end of June.
Meanwhile, refinery crude output, representing the processed volume of crude oil yielding gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, fell by 4 percent compared to the previous month, reaching 2.56 million bpd, according to JODI data.

 

 


IMF demands Pakistan secure parliamentary approval on reforms for loan agreement— official

Updated 23 May 2024
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IMF demands Pakistan secure parliamentary approval on reforms for loan agreement— official

  • Government will present “prior actions” needed to secure IMF loan in federal budget next month, says finance ministry official 
  • Leading economist says Pakistan left with no option but to secure IMF bailout to meet external financing needs of $80 billion 

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Pakistan to seek parliamentary approval on major economic reforms related to the energy, power, tax sectors and on the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) before starting formal talks for another loan program, a finance ministry official said on Thursday. 

Facing low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, Pakistan last month completed a short-term $3 billion IMF program that helped stave off a sovereign default. However, the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has stressed the need for a fresh, longer-term program with the global lender. 

An IMF mission reached Islamabad last week to negotiate with Pakistani authorities for a fresh bailout program, holding talks with officials on reforms in key economic sectors. The mission is wrapping up its visit today, Thursday, without reaching any staff-level agreement with Islamabad. 

The government would present the economic reforms demanded by IMF or “prior actions” in parliament in the Finance Bill 2024-25 likely to be presented on June 7, the finance ministry official with knowledge of the negotiations, said on condition of anonymity. 

“The IMF has suggested authorities to get parliamentary approval for the new loan program’s targets and conditions before initiation of the formal talks,” the official told Arab News. 

“In fact, these are the prior actions that Pakistan is required to take care of before reaching a staff-level agreement with the Fund for the new bailout package.”

The international lender has urged Islamabad to overhaul its SOEs and introduce tax, energy and power reforms. Pakistan has had to take painful measures in line with the IMF’s demands since 2022, which included hiking fuel and food prices. 

The finance ministry official said the government intends to introduce key reforms in the energy and power sectors in line with the IMF’s demands, besides broadening the tax base through progressive initiatives. 

“The government will take all parliamentary parties into confidence over the digitalization of the Federal Board of Revenue and the privatization of the SOEs,” he added. 

Sajid Amin, a senior economist and deputy executive director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said the government had “no option but to secure the IMF loan program.” He said the IMF’s program was critical in helping Pakistan meet its external financing needs of around $80 billion in the next three years. 

“The IMF wants political ownership of the loan program and that’s why it is pushing the government to get all the targets and conditions approved by the parliament,” Amin told Arab News.

“The biggest challenge for the government is to convince the coalition partners and opposition over its reforms agenda to secure the IMF loan,” he said. 

Amin warned the upcoming IMF program would be the “toughest” one for the government as it would not be easy for it to complete it. 
 


Goldman Sachs to establish regional headquarters in Riyadh: report

Updated 23 May 2024
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Goldman Sachs to establish regional headquarters in Riyadh: report

RIYADH: Goldman Sachs Group is set to become the first Wall Street bank to establish its regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia as it has reportedly obtained a license from the Ministry of Investment, reported Bloomberg.

As per the recently approved laws in Saudi Arabia, companies with state contracts must have a regional headquarters in the Kingdom with a minimum of 15 employees.

Arab News contacted the Investment Ministry to get a confirmation of the news but officials declined to comment.

It would be pertinent to mention here that Goldman Sachs currently has offices in Doha, Riyadh and Dubai.

Saudi Arabia has outperformed its target for attracting regional headquarters, with over 180 companies now established in the Kingdom. This number surpassed the initial goal of securing 160 HQs by the end 2023.

Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for foreign companies that locate their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, including a 30-year exemption for corporate income tax.

The tax incentives include zero income tax for foreign entities that move their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, and these benefits can be availed from the date of the regional headquarters issuance license, according to Ministry of Investment. 


Saudi Arabia issues 54 industrial licenses in March 

Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia issues 54 industrial licenses in March 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia maintained the issuance of over 300 industrial licenses in the first quarter of 2024, consistent with the previous year, official data has revealed.

According to a statement released from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, as many as 324 industrial permits were issued in the first three months of the year, with 54 approvals issued in March alone. 

The report further showed that the volume of investments in March amounted to SR1.047 billion ($279 million). 

This falls in line with the Saudi Arabia’s ambition to transform mining into a foundational industrial pillar of the country’s economy. 

It also aligns with the ministry’s goal to strengthen the sector as well as contribute to the ongoing developments in accordance with Vision 2030.

Moreover, the report, which was issued by the ministry’s National Industrial and Mining Information Center, disclosed that the permits in March were distributed across several sectors, including the manufacturing of non-metallic mineral and food products and formed metal goods as well as chemicals and paper and its products. 

According to the analysis, the new industrial licenses were distributed among multiple regions, including the Eastern Province, Riyadh and Makkah, as well as Qassim, Jazan, Madinah, Al-Jouf, and Al-Baha. 

The distribution of new permits shows that small enterprises comprised 77.78 percent, with medium-sized companies following at 22.22 percent. 

In terms of the type of investments, national factories accounted for the largest percentage of the total licenses, with 98.15 percent, followed by foreign establishments with 1.85 percent. 

Furthermore, the study also indicated that the number of factories existing and under construction in the Kingdom until the end of the same month reached 11,832 factories, up from 11,757 facilities in February, with an investment volume of SR1.528 trillion.

Meanwhile, 69 factories started production in March, with an investment volume of SR1.339 billion.

The ministry issues its report monthly to establish the sector’s most critical indicators in Saudi Arabia, demonstrating the extent of change and the growth of industrial investments. 

In April, the Kingdom introduced the Mining Exploration Enablement Program, inviting global firms and explorers to participate in the initiative in an attempt to further expand the sector.

According to a statement at the time, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Investment extended invitations to international companies in the sector to register for the scheme. 

The statement further added at the time that the program is expected to boost exploration activities, optimize the value extracted from the mining sector, and expand the Kingdom’s survey potential by focusing on uncharted territories.  


Saudi Arabia to reshape global tourism landscape, says Al-Khateeb 

Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia to reshape global tourism landscape, says Al-Khateeb 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on track to change the map of tourism on a global level, according to a top minister.  

Participating in a dialogue session on the sidelines of the 50th UN Tourism Regional Commission for the Middle East taking place from May 22 to 24 in Muscat, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb stressed that the Kingdom is working in cooperation with regional member states of the organization to further develop the industry, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

This is in line with Saudi Arabia’s National Tourism Strategy, which aims to reach 150 million visitors by 2030, grow the private sector’s contribution, and attract direct foreign investments, adding to the economic growth and diversification. 

“The Kingdom will change the map of tourism in the world, and the opportunities and facilities that we provide to investors will make the tourism sector more attractive, and we are proceeding in a distinctive way in building the sector,” Al-Khateeb affirmed. 

During the session, the minister also indicated that Saudi Arabia has begun to develop the tourism division as part of its Vision 2030 plan, noting that the development efforts have succeeded in raising the sector’s contribution from 3 percent of the local economy to 4.5 percent by the end of the last year.  

Al-Khateeb also drew attention to the fact that the Middle East has great potential and natural resources that enable it to become one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.  

He explained that the countries in the region are moving as a single bloc in the right direction regarding developing the tourism sector, as they have begun designing plans and strategies to benefit from this promising industry.  

The minister highlighted that attracting and qualifying the national human resources are two important factors for developing the regional sector, stressing that the Saudi Ministry of Tourism pays great attention to the issue of qualifying national cadres working in the field. 

The body also works to attract young men and women in the Kingdom to work in the industry. 

In April, the deputy minister of destination enablement at the Ministry of Tourism said that Saudi Arabia is open to readjusting its goal of attracting 150 million visitors by 2030 if those numbers are achieved ahead of time.  

Speaking in an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the first day of the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh, Mahmoud Abdulhadi explained that goals are adjusted based on performance.    

“As we hit our target seven years ahead of target, our 100 million target, we therefore now have a new goal. I’m sure if we were to hit that new target with a significant overperformance in terms of the timeline, our targets would also be adjusted,” Abdulhadi said.