Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 

Fincantieri Arabia will highlight the group’s wide-ranging capabilities in shipbuilding, maritime equipment and systems. Fincantieri
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Updated 25 May 2024
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Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 

RIYADH: Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri plans to enhance collaboration with Saudi Arabia through a newly established unit, the company said. 

Fincantieri Arabia will bolster the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development agenda in the cruise, defense, and offshore sectors, the group disclosed in a press release, issued on the sidelines of an industrial conference in Riyadh. 

Fincantieri is the only shipbuilding group active in all high-tech marine industry sectors, the release added. 

The new unit aims to highlight the group’s wide-ranging capabilities in shipbuilding, maritime equipment and systems, and naval logistic support services, including training and simulation.  

It will also manage stakeholder relationships in the Kingdom and seek out local partners.  

Moreover, Fincantieri said it plans to share its technological expertise in shipbuilding across cruise, defense, and offshore sectors, thus opening up opportunities for Saudi nationals. 

The firm’s CEO Pierroberto Folgiero: “Our commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is steadfast. Fincantieri stands out in the shipbuilding industry for its vertically integrated model and our leadership across naval, cruise, and oil and gas sectors. We are proud to offer these world-class capabilities built on decades of naval heritage and excellence to help the Kingdom achieve its Vision 2030 objectives.”  

He added: “Given the maritime industry’s pivotal role under Vision 2030, we eagerly anticipate establishing strategic partnerships. Through these collaborations, we aim to enhance local technological capabilities, create opportunities for Saudi talent, and foster knowledge exchange.” 

The state-controlled Fincantieri has expanded its presence in the Middle East in recent years. In March 2023, Folgiero stated that the group would venture into the Saudi market and was strategically positioned for growth in the region. 

The Italian group is also aiming to enhance its focus on defense, a sector that presently contributes to around a quarter of its revenues. 

On May 20, Fincantieri concluded a shipbuilding joint venture, named Maestral, with Abu Dhabi-based EDGE Group. The two entities announced the signing of a €400 million ($433 million) contract with the UAE’s Coast Guard Forces for the supply of 10 advanced 51-meter offshore patrol vessels. 


Pakistan launches post-Hajj flight operation, plans to bring back 1,200 pilgrims today

Updated 2 min 21 sec ago
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Pakistan launches post-Hajj flight operation, plans to bring back 1,200 pilgrims today

  • Religious affairs ministry asks pilgrims to get Zamzam water from designated spots at relevant airports
  • The flight operation will continue until July 21 to bring back 70,000 pilgrims on government Hajj scheme

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan launched the post-Hajj flight operation on Thursday, bringing back the first batch of 150 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, with the religious affairs ministry saying that nearly 1,200 devotees would return via seven special flights to four different cities by the end of the day.
Transporting large numbers of pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season presents a significant logistical challenge, prompting the government to launch special flights, ensuring safe and timely travel for pilgrims.
The first post-Hajj flight operated between Jeddah and Multan, with six additional flights scheduled to return pilgrims to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad later in the day.
The religious affairs ministry announced that 720 Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will also travel to Madinah today. These pilgrims arrived in the kingdom shortly before Hajj began and were taken directly to Makkah, not having enough time to visit the Prophet’s Mosque before.
“The Hajj flight operation from Jeddah for the return of pilgrims will continue until July 9,” the ministry said in a statement. “The last Hajj flight from Madinah will arrive back in the homeland on July 21. The return of 70,000 government Hajj pilgrims will also be completed on July 21.”
In a separate statement, the ministry also announced the arrangements for distributing Zamzam water among pilgrims availing the government scheme.
“The ministry has made all airlines responsible through an agreement to facilitate pilgrims at designated points to collect Zamzam water,” it said.
The statement urged the pilgrims to collect the water from relevant airports and book it with their luggage.
Pilgrims often bring Zamzam water back from Hajj because it is considered sacred within Islam. The water comes from the Zamzam well located within the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
It is also believed to have unique properties and blessings, ensuring spiritual benefits and healing.


Russian air strike causes more damage to Ukraine’s power grid

Updated 38 min 18 sec ago
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Russian air strike causes more damage to Ukraine’s power grid

  • The attacks have knocked out half Ukraine’s energy generating capacity since March
  • Ukrainian air force said it shot down five out of nine missiles and all 27 drones launched by Russia over 10 Ukrainian regions

KYIV: Russia launched a new barrage of missiles and drones at Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday, causing “significant” damage to a thermal power plant and maintaining pressure on the electricity grid, Ukrainian officials said.
The attack on energy infrastructure in four regions damaged equipment, wounded seven workers and cut off electricity to more than 218,000 consumers, the energy ministry said.
The attacks have knocked out half Ukraine’s energy generating capacity since March and forced rolling blackouts, Kyiv says. Moscow says energy facilities are a legitimate military target and that some of the strikes were retaliation for Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.
Officials in Kyiv have for months been appealing to Ukraine’s allies to supply more air defenses against the air strikes carried out by Russia throughout the nearly 28-month-old full-scale invasion.
The Ukrainian air force said it shot down five out of nine missiles and all 27 drones launched by Russia over 10 Ukrainian regions during Thursday’s attack.
Despite the military’s readout, private power company DTEK said one of its thermal power plants suffered significant damage from the drone attack. The strikes, it said, amounted to the seventh large-scale attack on its infrastructure since March 22.
National grid operator Ukrenergo said the attack would lead to an increase in the quantity of scheduled blackouts on Thursday.
The military said the attack mostly targeted eastern Ukraine and in particular the Dnipropetrovsk region.
The region’s governor said five drones and four missiles were shot down over the region. Three men were wounded in the attack, which also damaged seven homes, he said.
Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said air defenses shot down all incoming aerial targets on their approach to the capital, and no damage or injuries were reported in the city.
Air defenses also downed four drones over the central region of Vinnytsia, where debris damaged a critical infrastructure object, the regional governor said without identifying it.


Ambitious expansion of T20 World Cup throws up playing and logistical challenges

Updated 20 June 2024
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Ambitious expansion of T20 World Cup throws up playing and logistical challenges

  • In modern cricket, an established statistical mechanism recalculates scores in rain-affected matches, with pitch and ground covering materials and more powerful equipment to disperse rainwater

Last week’s consideration of the pressures in professional cricket was followed by some real-time examples in the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup.

In Kingstown, St Vincent, South Africa scored only 115 against Nepal, who responded positively, cruising to 85 for two midway through the 14th over. Then four wickets fell quickly, leaving eight runs required from the final over, whittled down to two from the final two balls.

Those runs proved to be unattainable, a last ball run out sealing Nepal’s heartbreaking defeat by one run. Both batters, bowler and several fielders were under pressure to make crucial decisions in split seconds.

In St Lucia, Scotland scored a highly creditable 180 for five against Australia, aided by six dropped catches. This target challenged Australia’s batters as they slipped to sixty for three. A victory for Scotland would have elevated the team to the Super 8s stage; as it was, the pressure proved to be too great, as Australia’s extra experience took them to 186 for five with two deliveries remaining. The result meant that England, instead of Scotland, progressed. 

In Antigua, a few hours earlier, this had been very much in doubt. There it seemed the rain would not stop in sufficient time prior to the cut-off of 4.46 p.m. local time to allow mopping-up operations to be completed. One may wonder why the cut-off time should be so early in the day.

This relates to the ICC’s playing conditions for T20I men’s cricket, which stipulate that there should be two sessions of 1 hour 25 minutes, separated by a 20-minute interval between innings. Allowances also need to be made for one drink break per innings, umpire and player reviews, and any treatment of injuries. All of this equates to around 3.5 hours. There seems to be no flexibility on this and it would not be practical with matches that start at, say, 8 p.m. 

It is also pertinent to ask why a team — any team, let alone defending champions — should be at risk of being knocked out at the group stage by virtue of playing only two of its four group matches, courtesy of adverse weather conditions. England’s captain was pictured looking very mournful in the team area as rain continued to fall. Later, he admitted to it being a stressful day with real fears no play would be possible.

In the event, the match was only 46 minutes from abandonment. Ground staff worked incessantly to clear the outfield of water and the umpires were finally satisfied that play could start in a shortened match of 11 overs per team. This was reduced to 10 overs following a shower during England’s innings, which totaled 122 for five. Namibia fell 41 runs short to soothe England’s anxieties and relieve the pressure on its leadership. 

Although only four of the 40 group stage matches were washed out, three of them were in Florida. June is the start of the rainy season in the Caribbean and the Florida peninsula, so it is hardly a surprise the weather has affected matches. The ICC has been criticized for its decision to stage the 2024 T20 World Cup at this time of year in the knowledge of climatic conditions. In its defense, it would no doubt argue that the crowded cricket schedule allows no alternative.

The most favorable conditions for cricket in the Caribbean are between December and April. These months are when five T20 franchise leagues are played. The decision to include the USA as joint hosts in 2024 limits the options. Although Florida is sub-tropical, New York is not. The next T20 World Cups will be hosted by India and Sri Lanka in February 2026, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 2028. In all cases, except for northern India, weather issues should not be of concern. Given the capricious nature of the world’s climate patterns, it seems we are asked to accept that rain will interfere randomly with cricket, as it always has done.

In modern cricket, an established statistical mechanism is now deployed to recalculate scores in rain affected matches, while enhanced pitch and ground covering materials are used and more powerful equipment is available to disperse rainwater. What is needed to make best use of these is sufficient staff on hand. There have been several occasions at this World Cup when that did not appear to be the case.

Another area of discussion has surrounded the absence of reserve days in the group and Super 8 stages, apparently for logistical reasons. Reserve days are available for the semi-finals and final if the team batting second is unable to face ten overs. If the reserve day is invoked in the second semi-final, then the final is scheduled for the next day. This is high risk planning. 

What appears to be lower risk planning is the timing of matches. These are weighted heavily in favor of Indian audiences. All matches involving India in the group and Super 8 stages start at 8 p.m. IST. Additionally, this is the scheduled start time for all but seven of the other 47 matches, ensuring that Indians can watch most matches in the evening. In contrast, the local time for viewing Australia’s matches is either 3 a.m. or 10.30 a.m. Furthermore, India’s semi-final venue is pre-planned. 

This T20 World Cup is the first to comprise 20 teams. It was bound to create logistical challenges for the ICC. On top of these, the performances of the expanded number of associate members will be scrutinized by those who disagree with their inclusion. In that sense the biggest disappointment for many about the tournament — the sub-standard quality of pitches — may have helped the associate teams.

Many batters in the Full member teams have struggled to adapt to the pitches, creating unexpected opportunities for associates to achieve shock results. Under pressure, they failed to do so on most occasions. Only by playing more regularly against Full members can associates learn to maximize these chances.


Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

Updated 20 June 2024
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Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

LONDON: Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry’s Statistical Review of World Energy report said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme.

“We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead,” Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.

Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 Exajoules, the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time.

“In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged,” Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.

The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil fuel share of energy fell below 70 percent for the first time since the industrial revolution.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth,” Energy Institute Chief Executive Nick Wayth said.

Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023. They took over from BP last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s.

Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6 percent to a new high.

But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year.

“China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable,” KPMG’s Virley told reporters.

Report Highlights

Consumption

  • Global primary energy demand rose by 2 percent in 2023 from 2022, to 620 EJ.
  • Fossil fuel use rose 1.5 percent to 505 EJ, which accounted for 81.5 percent of the overall energy mix, down by 0.5 percent from 2022.
  • Fossil fuel use did not increase in a single European country in 2023.
  • Electricity generation rose by 2.5 percent in 2023, up slightly from 2.3 percent of growth the previous year.
  • Renewable fuel generation – excluding hydro – gained 13 percent to a new record high of 4,748 terawatt-hours.
  • Renewables’ share of the overall energy mix excluding hydro was 8 percent, up from 7.5 percent in the 2022 report.
  • Including hydro renewables accounted for 15 percent of the global mix.

Oil

  • Oil consumption exceeded 100 million bpd in 2023 for the first time ever, following a 2 percent year-on-year rise.
  • Oil supply growth was met by non-OPEC+ producers, with US output gaining 9 percent on the year.
  • China overtook the US as the country with the largest refining capacity in the world last year at 18.5 million bpd, though refining volumes still lagged behind at 82 percent utilization vs the US’ 87 percent.
  • Global gasoline consumption hit 25 million bpd last year, just above its 2019 pre-pandemic level.
  • Biofuels production increased by 8 percent to 2.1 million bpd in 2023, driven by gains in the US and Brazil.
  • The US, Brazil, and Europe accounted for 80 percent of global biofuels consumption.

Natural Gas

  • Global gas production and consumption remained relatively flat on the year in 2023.
  • LNG supply rose by almost 2 percent to 549 billion cubic meters (bcm).
  • The US overtook Qatar as the leading global supplier of LNG after a 10 percent rise in production.
  • Overall European gas demand was down 7 percent on the year in 2023.
  • Russia’s share of European gas supply was just 15 percent in 2023, from 45 percent in 2021.

Coal

  • Coal consumption hit a new high of 164 EJ in 2023, up 1.6 percent on the year, driven by China and India.
  • India’s coal consumption exceeded that of Europe and North America combined.
  • US coal consumption fell by 17 percent in 2023 and has halved in the last decade.

Renewables

  • The record high in renewable generation was driven by higher wind and solar capacity, with 67 percent more additions in those two categories in 2023 than 2022.
  • As much as 74 percent of net growth in overall power generation came from renewables.
  • China accounted for 55 percent of all renewable generation additions in 2023, and was responsible for 63 percent of new global wind and solar capacity.

Emissions

  • Emissions grew by 2 percent on the year to exceed 40 gigatons.
  • Emissions rose despite the slight drop in fossil fuels’ share of the energy mix, because emissions within the fossil fuels category became more intense as oil and coal use rose and gas held steady.
  • The report notes that since 2000, emissions from energy have increased by 50 percent.

Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

Updated 20 June 2024
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Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

SINGAPORE: Brent oil futures were little changed in Asia on Thursday, hovering slightly below seven-week highs, as the market weighed geopolitical developments in the Middle East while waiting for US inventory data.

August Brent rose 9 cents to $85.16 per barrel by 9:30 a.m. Saudi time.

Meanwhile, US West Texas Intermediate futures for July, which expire on Thursday, dipped 15 cents at $81.42 per barrel.

There was no WTI settlement on Wednesday due to a US holiday, which kept trading largely subdued. The more active August contract fell 15 cents to $80.56 per barrel.

Brent crude futures edged up in early trade on Thursday as the market digested news of Israeli tanks advancing into Gaza.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks, warplanes and drones, moved farther into the city of Rafah, killing eight people, residents and Palestinian medics said.

“Markets anticipate an escalation in the Gaza crisis to dent the oil supplies from the key producing region,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

However, the concerns over an inventory build appear to be overshadowing fears of escalating geopolitical stress for now, Sachdeva said.

WTI crude slipped ahead of the US government’s oil inventories report, which was delayed by a day due to the national holiday.

The Energy Information Administration is due to release last week’s oil stocks data at 6:00 p.m. Saudi time on Thursday.

An industry report released on Tuesday showed US crude stocks rose by 2.264 million barrels in the week ended June 14, market sources said, citing American Petroleum Institute figures, while gasoline inventories fell.

“EIA’s weekly oil inventory report will be scoured for any signs of weak demand,” said ANZ Research analysts on Thursday.