Saudi farmers swap grass for gas

Saudi Arabia and Denmark are developing a patented process to convert natural gas into high protein livestock feed. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 August 2019

Saudi farmers swap grass for gas

  • Unibio plans to develop a facility in the Kingdom that will utilize its patented fermentation process, which converts natural gas into high-protein livestock feed
  • The project aims to decouple protein production from farming and fishing while instead using abundant natural gas

LONDON: Saudi Arabia and Denmark are developing a patented process to convert natural gas into high protein livestock feed.
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Denmark’s Unibio have struck an initial agreement worth $200 million to develop the concept.
Unibio plans to develop a facility in the Kingdom that will utilize its patented fermentation process, which converts natural gas into high-protein livestock feed.
“With a growing population, this project represents an important step toward achieving food security for the Kingdom by providing a sustainable and economically viable source of animal feed products,” said SAGIA Governor Ibrahim Al-Omar.

“The importance of this project is that it uses a clean and abundant natural source in the Kingdom, and produces a high-quality protein supplements to feed fish, poultry and livestock, in addition to the transfer of advanced technology to the Kingdom.”
The project aims to decouple protein production from farming and fishing while instead using abundant natural gas.
Research into developing synthetic proteins as alternative food sources is being driven by a rapidly expanding global population which is expected to rise by a third to 9.8 billion by 2050. Rising wealth levels also produces a corresponding rise in protein consumption.
Unibio claims its technology also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to the practice of gas flaring in the energy industry.
It estimates that nearly 140 billion cubic meters (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas are being flared and vented annually by the oil industry.
That is the equivalent of about a quarter of total US gas consumption.


Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

Updated 17 September 2019

Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

  • A long-sought trade pact with Japan was scrapped when Donald Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017
  • Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal

TOKYO: Officials in Japan appeared wary over the prospects for a trade deal with the US after President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sign a pact soon.
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Tuesday that the two sides are still finalizing details after reaching a basic agreement in late August on trade in farm products, digital trade and other industries.
Suga said Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are considering signing a deal in late September when they attend the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We are accelerating the work that still remains,” he said. “But I decline to comment further because we have not reached a formal agreement.”
Trump’s notice to Congress, released by the White House on Monday, did not mention tariffs on autos and parts, long a sticking point between the two countries.
It said his administration was looking forward to collaborating with lawmakers on a deal that would result in “more fair and reciprocal trade” between the two countries.
Toshimitsu Motegi, who became foreign minister last week after negotiating the deal as economy minister, said Japan must watch carefully to prevent Washington from forcing any last-minute changes, Kyodo News agency reported.
The agricultural minister, Taku Eto, cautioned against letting down Tokyo’s guard until the final agreement is reached, it said.
A long-sought trade agreement with Japan was scrapped when Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017.
Japan and the other 10 remaining members of the trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then renegotiated their own deal without the US
Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal.
That resurrected the longtime issue of tariffs on Japanese car and auto parts exports to the US and of stiffer duties on US exports of farm and other products to Japan.