Novatek eyes Saudi Aramco as a partner in Arctic LNG-2

A general view shows the Saudi Aramco oil facility in Dammam city, 450 km east of the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Novatek eyes Saudi Aramco as a partner in Arctic LNG-2

MOSCOW: Novatek is interested in Saudi Aramco joining the Arctic LNG-2 plant as a partner, the Russian gas producer’s head Leonid Mikhelson said on Thursday, highlighting growing ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Both countries have been instrumental in implementing a global pact on cutting oil production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day.
Novatek and its partners started producing liquefied natural gas at the Yamal LNG project last year. Novatek is headed by Mikhelson, who is ranked as Russia’s wealthiest man according to the Russian edition of Forbes.
It also plans to launch its second LNG project in the nearby Gydan peninsula in 2022-2023.
Novatek, Russia’s largest non-state natural gas producer, and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum on cooperation last week, without disclosing details
“We are interested in Saudi Aramco to become our partner in Arctic LNG-2 project,” Mikhelson told a conference call with investors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time of Yamal LNG launch in December, that Russia would like to sell its gas to Saudi Arabia.
MORE EQUITY FINANCING
Mikhelson also said that Novatek plans to finance the new project mostly via its shareholders, with 45 percent of total financing expected to be via equity and 55 percent could be raised by external debt.
Investments in the $27 billion Yamal LNG project were put at risk after Novatek came under Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis. But it found other financing sources.
Mikhelson said on Thursday that financing of Arctic LNG-2 would be lower by a third than Yamal LNG.


Saudi consumers splashing the cash once more, says Mastercard boss

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago
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Saudi consumers splashing the cash once more, says Mastercard boss

  • J.K. Khalil: We have seen an overall relaxation in the economy. It’s not yet back to previous levels, but there has been a positive trend reversal
  • J.K. Khalil: We are expecting the second quarter to be better than the first, and we are confident that will happen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian consumers are increasingly spending cash — and using their credit cards online — after a period of relative parsimony, the head of one of the biggest providers of consumer payment systems told Arab News.

J.K. Khalil, the general manager of Mastercard in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, said that there has been an appreciable pickup in consumer spending in the first quarter of 2019, in contrast to the slump that followed the introduction of value-added tax last year.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Khalil said: “There are positive signals that last year’s situation is being reversed. We have seen an overall relaxation in the economy. It’s not yet back to previous levels, but there has been a positive trend reversal.”

Khalil described the upturn as a “positive single-digit increase.”

The Mastercard regional boss said that the trend would continue. “We are expecting the second quarter to be better than the first, and we are confident that will happen,” he said.

A lot of the upturn has been in the form of online transactions, he said. “We are seeing an increase not just in the physical retail space, but also online. Consumers see increasingly that cards can be used online and offline,” Khalil added.

Some 30 million debit cards are now used for e-commerce transactions in the Kingdom, Khalil said.

Mastercard’s optimistic view was echoed by several participants at the Financial Sector Conference. Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan opened the first day of the event with the surprise announcement that the Kingdom’s budget had recorded its first quarterly surplus in five years.

Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, the minister for economy and planning, said on Thursday that unemployment was down in the Kingdom, even though there were a large number of new entrants to the jobs market.

Elsewhere at the event, which closed on Thursday, there were expressions that the Kingdom had “turned the corner” from the downturn that hit after the collapse in oil prices in 2014. One operator of a major retail chain, who asked not to be identified, said that footfall in the capital’s malls was ahead of last year, and the trend was expected to continue this year.