Cloud-seeding plan aims to increase rainfall in Saudi Arabia by 20 percent

The ministry said the cloud-seeding program targets specific types of clouds, using their physical properties to stimulate rainfall. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Cloud-seeding plan aims to increase rainfall in Saudi Arabia by 20 percent

  • The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said the program was developed after a review of global practices and visits to other countries in the region
  • The Kingdom is one of the world’s most arid countries, with less than 100 millimeters of rainfall a year

RIYADH: The Saudi cabinet has approved a cloud-seeding program that aims to increase rainfall in the Kingdom by almost 20 percent.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said the program was developed after a review of global practices and visits to other countries in the region to study their experiences of cloud seeding. It is a response to the growing pressure placed on water resources by population growth, in addition to significant growth in the industrial, energy, transportation, mining and agricultural sectors, where demand for water has almost reached 24 billion cubic meters a year.

The Kingdom is one of the world’s most arid countries, with less than 100 millimeters of rainfall a year. Almost 2.7 billion cubic meters of seawater are desalinated each year, but about 80 to 85 percent of the Kingdom’s demand is met by groundwater sources. This rate of extraction is greater than the rate of replacement, given the low rainfall.

The ministry said the cloud-seeding program targets specific types of clouds, using their physical properties to stimulate rainfall. Catalysts are sown, some of which are natural, in these clouds to release the largest possible amount of water. The ministry stressed that cloud-seeding does not create clouds; instead, it increases rainfall by providing cloud condensation nuclei.

The Kingdom began studying cloud seeding in 1976 in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization. An agreement was signed with the University of Wyoming, in the US, to conduct the first cloud-seeding experiments, which took place in Asir in 1990. The experiments have continued in the Kingdom’s central regions, specifically Riyadh, Qassim and Hail, as well as the northwest and southwest, with the participation of a group of specialist Saudi scientists. The results proved that the clouds have seeding potential.


Oil coup for Saudi Arabia as output cuts are extended

Updated 31 min 23 sec ago

Oil coup for Saudi Arabia as output cuts are extended

  • ‘Compliance is vital,’ Prince Abdul Aziz says

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia pulled off a coup in the world of oil diplomacy on Saturday with an agreement to extend the historic output cuts credited with pulling energy markets out of chaos.

At a virtual meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producersled by Russia, 23 exporters agreed to roll over the record-breaking cuts until the end of July, with a monthly option to renew the agreement after that.

The deal has strict provisions against producers who fail to comply. Some countries, notably Iraq and Nigeria, have been accused of ignoring the agreed caps on crude production.

“Effective compliance is vital if we are to secure the hard-won stability in global oil markets and restore confidence in the unity and effectiveness of the OPEC+ group,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi Energy Minister. “This stability and positive market sentiment will bring its own rewards.”


OPEC+ agreed unanimously that countries that have fallen short of full compliance since May 1 will make up that shortfall over the summer months and will adhere to production limits in the future.

Compliance will be assessed at monthly ministerial monitoring meetings until the end of the year. “We must be vigilant. Each of the 23 countries represented here must be on guard for any signs of backsliding from their commitments,” Prince Abdul Aziz said.


“All OPEC+ partners must deliver on their pledges for the collective pledges to be sustained. Each country has to adhere to its commitment to restrain production along the agreed guidelines.”

The minister referred to the recent “low point” when American crude briefly traded below zero, but said the OPEC+ deal, bolstered by extra voluntary cuts from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, had helped the global market over the worst.


Brent crude, the global benchmark, has more than doubled in price since the cuts took effect. “Demand is returning as big oil-consuming economies emerge from pandemic lockdown,” Prince Abdul Aziz said. “Through our commitment to a proactive policy, within a cohesive and collective framework, we are restoring confidence and stability to global oil markets. Today, we have grounds to be cautiously optimistic about the future.”

Energy experts welcomed the deal, but echoed the minister’s caution. “This is an important success for OPEC+. It shows ability to deliver, willingness to address discipline, and coherence in the approach,” saidChristof Ruehl of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

“The problem is that the more OPEC+ succeeds, the easier it becomes for private producers to enjoy the fruits of its labor.”