Saudi Arabia pledges commitment to protecting global shipping

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Saudi Arabia’s newly-appointed permanent representative to the IMO Essam Al-Ammari (L), Saudi Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi (C) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim (C-R) at the reception to promote the Kingdom’s membership to the IMO Council. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Arabia’s Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi speaking during a reception in London to promote the Kingdom’s membership to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Arabia’s newly-appointed permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Essam Al-Ammari, speaking during a reception in London to promote the Kingdom’s membership to the IMO’s Council. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Arabia’s Transport General Authority hosted a reception in London to promote the Kingdom’s membership to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council in the upcoming annual elections. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Arabia’s Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi speaking during a reception in London to promote the Kingdom’s membership to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi co-hosted the event with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
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Saudi Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi co-hosted the event with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
Updated 06 October 2019

Saudi Arabia pledges commitment to protecting global shipping

  • Transport minister says maritime security was a key issue for many countries, especially Saudi Arabia 
  • Kingdom is aiming to be elected to the International Maritime Organization’s Council 

LONDON: Protecting global shipping and developing international maritime trade growth was a key priority for Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s transport minister has pledged.
Speaking in London to promote Saudi membership of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council at upcoming annual elections, Dr. Nabeel Al-Amoudi said: “The Kingdom is strategically located between the east and west, overlooking two of the world’s most important marine waters.”
The minister added that since the Kingdom’s accession to the UN agency in 1969, it had “consistently played a vital and effective role in the growth and development of the international maritime transport sector by preserving the marine environment and promoting the safety and security of the maritime transport industry.
“The Kingdom views that we have under-represented our achievements in the maritime sector and we hope, through our election, that we can reassert our presence to the IMO Council,” Al-Amoudi told delegates to the event, hosted by the Transport General Authority.

The IMO Council election comes at a time when freedom of navigation for international shipping in the waters in and around the Arabian Gulf has been the focus of heightened tensions with Iran.
Saudi Arabia, the US and other nations have accused Tehran of attacking shipping in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz while supporting Yemeni militias in disrupting navigation in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab Strait.
Al-Amoudi said maritime security was a key issue for many countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
The gathering heard how Saudi Arabia held a leading global maritime role, with nine commercial and industrial ports along its 2,500-kilometer coastline linking Asia, Africa and Europe. The Red Sea to the west was a vital passage for about 13 percent of world trade, and the Arabian Gulf to the east, accounted for about 30 percent of international energy flow.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia is one of the most important member states and has been working very hard and actively participating in all IMO meetings, so we are very satisfied. Also, the Kingdom is an important maritime shipping nation, both importing and exporting.
“There’s a lot of potential to develop collaboration between the IMO and Saudi Arabia, so we are working to enhance and collaborate more than before.”

On the Kingdom’s maritime role amid the current tensions with Iran, the newly-appointed Saudi permanent representative to the IMO, Essam Al-Ammari, told Arab News that the UN-based organization did not “deal with politics” and “these issues are discussed at a higher level in the UN or Security Council.”
However, Kitack said: “We are expecting that tensions should be eased as soon as possible, based on collaboration and dialogue among the stakeholders.”
Al-Ammari added that winning a seat on the IMO Council would be “something special; to have decisions and to work with other countries in developing the (maritime) laws for a safe and clean environment.”
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has significantly developed its maritime regulatory framework as part of its sweeping Vision 2030 reform program.

The Kingdom established the King Abdullah Port in King Abdullah Economic City and the King Salman International Complex for Maritime Industries and Services in Ras Al-Khair port that includes shipbuilding yards and a maritime academy. It has also built two maritime radio navigation satellite service stations to enhance nautical communication.
The country’s fleet has increased from 284 to 368 ships that carry the Saudi flag and its tonnage had more than doubled from 3.2 to 7.9 million tons by 2018, ranking it 23rd globally.
“Our capacity is over 600 million tons per annum,” Al-Amoudi said. “We look to increase that through private-sector investment in the coming years and you’ll hear some announcements soon. We are also looking to expand into the maritime building and shipbuilding sectors.”
The IMO has 172 member states, 40 of which serve in the council.


Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Updated 20 January 2020

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

  • Government plans to invest up to $50bn in renewable energy projects by 2023
  • Demand for electricity in the Kingdom is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leaders in the race to use renewable energy, according to a new study.

The Solar Outlook Report 2020 was launched at the Solar Forum of the World Future Energy Summit, a highlight of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Jan. 11-18).
The report, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the largest regional body of its kind, said Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.
“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.
Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.
“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”
Upcoming solar projects in the Kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.
Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to data provided by market researchers Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.
Under its Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom aims to reduce its dependency on oil revenues, diversify its energy mix and tap its renewable energy potential.

Saudi Acwa power-generating windmills that have been erected in Jbel Sendouq, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco. (Reuters)

After the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was set up within the Ministry of Energy, the goals for the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) were revised upwards in 2018, resulting in a five-year target of 27.3 GW and a 12-year target of 58.7 GW.
The Saudi government plans to invest up to $50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
“At MESIA, we are excited to see solar developments in the MENA region accelerating and reaching attractive tariffs, while lowering the carbon footprint of regional economies,” Mamlouk said.
“The total investment in renewables in MENA between 2019 and 2023 is expected to be $71.4 billion, representing a 34 percent share of the total investment in the power sector, which is valued at $210 billion.”
Changes introduced by Saudi Arabia include a focus on local developers and easing of regulations for local manufacturers of solar panels.
A Local Content and Government Procurement Authority has been established to oversee and audit local content compliance.
Separately, a Renewable Energy Financing package has been launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to support the growth of utility and distributed-generation sectors.
After solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of a mosque in Riyadh, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center recommended a similar move at other mosques.
Meanwhile, plans for the use of solar panels in the Saudi agro-industry have led to burgeoning interest in the technology, with several industrial facilities expected to have their own units in the not-too-distant future.
For good measure, a regulatory framework to allow exchanges with the power grid is being studied by the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority.
Flexible storage solutions, such as hydrogen, will give intermittent renewable energy a greater share in the energy system, Mamlouk said.

“It may enable present-day oil and gas exporters to become key renewable energy exporters tomorrow. The solar industry is thrilled and proud to participate in this profound transformation of Saudi Arabia’s energy system.”
In the past year solar tariffs have fallen to record low levels in the MENA region, mainly due to tremendous cost declines that have brought the goal of grid parity within reach.
With installed solar electricity capacity worldwide standing at 617.9 GW, MENA governments are staying focused on energy diversification with the help of large-scale projects.
In the UAE, Dubai is targeting the completion of a 5 GW facility by 2030 at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park. Abu Dhabi has “engaged” its second-largest solar project and is considering the roll-out of more units by 2025.

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62.7GW - Demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2019

Morocco aims to reach 52 percent contribution by renewables in its energy mix by 2030. The figures for Tunisia and Egypt are 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by 2022.
Oman expects solar-power plants totaling 1.5 GW to come on stream by the end of 2022. Even Iraq, with all its political troubles and administrative paralysis, has not ignored solar power in drawing up plans for its future energy mix.
“Investments in renewable energy have reached billions in all Arab countries,” Mohammed Al-Taani, secretary-general of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, said.
“Jordan is spending more on renewable energy, and we encourage people to have more independence with renewables by generating their own electricity to reduce their bills.”


Nevertheless, challenges remain when it comes to implementing projects in rural and isolated areas, according to Mustapha Taoumi, a technology expert at the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network.

“With regard to issues of power grid and access to the people, we have to prepare for everything and be ready to receive new technology because there are communities with little income and education,” he said.
“Then there is the challenge of implementation on the part of different actors and sectors. Social acceptance is also important as we come with new technologies and (information on) how to use them.
“We have to be innovative when it comes to financing the facilitation process. We have to be fair and democratic,” he said.
Although this is an exciting time for the region, governments will have to step up their efforts since they are still subsidizing the cost of power, Taoumi said.
“Technologies are evolving quickly, so decision-making must keep pace,” he said. “We could end up having smart meters in rural and isolated areas in two to three years.”