Majority of energy executives expect world to reach net-zero by 2060

In February, CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, said the company is eyeing continuity in the production of all types of energy including oil and gas, along with renewables. (File)
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Updated 30 March 2024

Majority of energy executives expect world to reach net-zero by 2060

  • This view is most strongly held among oil and gas business leaders, survey by Bain & Co. shows

RIYADH: Around 62 percent of executives in the energy sector expect the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 or later, a study showed.

The survey, carried out by management consulting firm Bain & Co., revealed that this view is consistent across most regions and is most strongly held among oil and gas business leaders. 

“Despite ENR (energy and natural resources) companies’ continued investments in decarbonization, about 62 percent of executives now anticipate the world will reach net-zero by 2060 or later, up from 54 percent in last year’s survey,” said Bain & Co. 

Most of the participants in the survey pointed out the financial viability of energy transition projects as a major concern.  

According to these ENR executives, the greatest obstacle to scaling up their transition-oriented businesses is finding enough customers willing to pay higher prices to create sufficient return on investment.  

“Energy transition looks slower as it becomes even more difficult to ensure adequate investment returns and progress diverges across a fragmenting world,” said the report.  

It added: “In our view, the direct impact of higher interest rates on the cost of transition projects is one of the most important stories of 2023 and is likely shaping executives’ perspective on this issue.”   

The survey also indicated that taxes and carbon pricing, along with government subsidies, are the top levers which will influence customer behavior. 

Middle East executives confident about energy transition-related businesses

The report highlighted that executives in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America are feeling more optimistic about the prospects of their transition-oriented growth businesses.  

The survey results also revealed that ENR officials in these regions believe transition-related businesses will bring positive impacts to their company’s valuation and profits by 2030.  

Speaking to Arab News, Paul Sullivan, non-resident senior fellow of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council also shared similar views and noted that countries in the Middle East have all the potential to spearhead the transition journey.  

“GCC countries may in the end be more successful at some transitions because they need the transitions to help economic diversification and economic diplomacy. And mostly they can pay for the energy transition with their oil and gas revenues. Without those revenues, it would be near impossible to do this,” said Sullivan.  

In February, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said the company is eyeing continuity in the production of all types of energy including oil and gas, along with renewables. 

Two months earlier, Nasser said the amount of renewable energy coming to the international market falls short of fulfilling the rising demand. 

He said more investments are needed in the oil and gas sector to ensure a smooth energy transition. 

The Bain & Co. report said energy executives consider North America as the most attractive region for transition-related investments, but the stability of government policies remains a concern.  

According to the report, over 70 percent of the executives worldwide who took part in the survey revealed that reducing policy uncertainty would very significantly improve their ability to scale up transition-oriented businesses. 

“Many of the programs started by governments in the recent past and present may not survive the political changes that could be coming. Many governments are listening to their voters and are already backing down from some energy transition measures,” added Sullivan.

Jiyas Jamal, an Indian lawyer who is also a climate activist, shared similar views, and said energy transition is happening slower, but countries all across the globe have started taking the climate issue seriously.  

“I do agree that energy transition is happening slowly. However, there is a growing awareness all over the world regarding the issue of climate change. Even though financial viability is a major concern among ENR companies, the trend is reversing now, and several big names in the sector, especially in the Middle East region are seriously investing in renewable projects,” Jamal told Arab News.

The impact of AI on energy transition 

The report said advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, have a crucial role to play as the world sails toward a sustainable future.  

According to the survey, the share of ENR executives who believe AI and digital processes will have a significant effect on their businesses by 2030 increased from 56 percent in 2023 to 65 percent in 2024. 


• Most of the participants in the survey pointed out the financial viability of energy transition projects as a major concern.

• According to these ENR executives, the greatest obstacle to scaling up their transition-oriented businesses is finding enough customers willing to pay higher prices to create sufficient return on investment.

• The Bain & Co. report said energy executives consider North America as the most attractive region for transition-related investments.

Improving maintenance, production, and the supply chain are currently among the most promising generative AI applications across ENR sectors, the report added.  

However, executives are skeptical that generative AI will play a significant role in reducing emissions due to its significant energy requirements. 

“AI could be an increasingly bigger part of the transition in many countries and across countries. But AI is a big consumer of energy. This energy consumption needs to be considered as a factor in the energy transition and for climate and environmental issues in the future,” said Sullivan.  

He added: “No energy is clean over its supply chains and life cycles. No energy is free — contrary to some of the ‘renewables’ salespersons. No energy is truly renewable when the technologies reach their lifetimes and need to be decommissioned. So, even the concept of renewable is up to question and is more of a continuum than an absolute.” 

Energy transition: the funding dilemma 

Talking about the energy transition progress in the global north and south, Sullivan said funding is an issue for all countries.  

He opined that richer countries have more capital that can be put into the transition efforts, but they are excessively relying on tax breaks and subsidies.

“Developed countries have built up massive public debts and yet many feel free to spend tens of billions of mostly borrowed money increasing their debt to go forward with the energy transition. This is not sustainable at all,” noted Sullivan.

He added: “Many leaders in the poorer parts of the world do not have climate as a top issue and the energy transition is very expensive. For poorer and less developed countries, they have many other more pressing problems to deal with, such as poverty, education, health, and other crushing economic and political issues.”  

For his part, Jamal concluded that energy transition is one of the crucial agendas the world is facing, and it should be achieved effectively, even though a little delay happens in the process.  

“The world is facing the heat of climate change. All the countries should try to achieve their net-zero targets for our future generations. Developed nations should continue lending their helping hand to the least developed, as this is an issue which can be addressed with cooperation,” he said.

Oil creeps back up after three days of losses

Updated 23 May 2024

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

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

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

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

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.