Saudi Arabia to remain oil exporting kingpin says IEA boss

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the World Economic Forum in Davos that despite a rapidly changing global energy sector, the Kingdom would remain a key player. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2019

Saudi Arabia to remain oil exporting kingpin says IEA boss

  • IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol: The Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia will remain the largest exporter of oil for many years to come
  • Fatih Birol: For this year, let’s pay special attention to US shale because some observers last year made wrong assumptions and underestimated US shale growth

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will remain the largest global oil exporter for years to come despite the growth of the US oil sector, according to the chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the World Economic Forum in Davos that despite a rapidly changing global energy sector, the Kingdom would remain a key player.

But he added that the importance of the US shale sector should not be underestimated as it had been in the past.

“The Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia will remain the largest exporter of oil for many years to come,” he told an energy panel at the annual gathering of global political and business leaders in the Swiss mountain resort.

Official data from Saudi Arabia released on Monday showed the Kingdom’s crude oil exports in November rose to 8.235 million bpd from 7.7 million in October.

“The US produce a lot of oil but most of the time they use that at home for domestic purposes. So even though US is now a very important oil producer, the Middle East will remain the largest exporter of oil.

“But for this year, 2019, let’s pay special attention to US shale once again because some of the observers last year I think made wrong assumptions and underestimated US shale growth,” said Birol.

The huge growth of the US shale oil industry has transformed the energy landscape in the US, which until last month had been a net importer of oil for the last 75 years.

Oil prices fell nearly 2 percent on Tuesday, pushed lower by signs of a slowdown in China.


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.