Phase one of SPARK 60% complete

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) in December 2018. (SPA)
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Updated 21 July 2020

Phase one of SPARK 60% complete

  • 15 major companies already signed deals; project to create massive job opportunities

DHAHRAN: The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) has completed 60 percent of its first phase, which consists of infrastructure, roads, utilities, and real estate assets established across 14 square kilometers, in addition to a dedicated 3-square-kilometer logistics zone and dry port.

A total of SR6 billion ($1.6 billion) was invested in the first phase of the project, which is set to be completed in 2021. Upon completion the project will add SR22 billion annually to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2035, while creating thousands of new highly skilled job opportunities.

Chairman of the King Salman Energy Park, Dr. Mohammed Yahya Al-Qahtani, said: “Achieving this feat strongly reflects our commitment to implement this unique project that is designed for the betterment of our community. SPARK will be a new engine fueling the growth of the energy sector, as well as driving the diversification agenda of our economy. As we take huge economic leaps, soon we will be ready to attract the best talent and create new opportunities for our ambitious youth.”

He thanked SPARK’s employees, tenants and contractors for their “dedication and commitment” to ensuring continued progress by using new technologies and innovative methods to meet deadlines in a “safe and effective manner.”

Fifteen major energy companies have already signed agreements to invest in SPARK, and another 15 companies are currently in the pipeline. It is forecast that foreign direct investment in SPARK will exceed $2 billion in the next 2 years once these investors finalize the construction of their facilities.

SPARK has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the leading global logistics specialists, Hutchison Ports, to create a joint venture company to manage and operate the dry port and logistics zone. Once completed, SPARK’s investors and neighboring regional hubs will be able to benefit from world class logistics infrastructure and enhanced global reach.

In April 2019, Schlumberger commenced work on a $46 million facility that will produce drilling solutions for the regional energy industry, adding 260 jobs to the workforce. 

Yokogawa, another anchor investor in SPARK, is in the final stages of construction work on its new high-tech equipment center. The Oilfields Supply Company Saudi (OSC) is building an oil and gas industry user supply base to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises by providing ready-to-use factories with the latest specifications, along with a range of integrated services and logistical solutions.  

OSC Saudi has completed 10 percent of its construction and building work to date, becoming one of the largest investments in SPARK, with a forecast investment of $400 million spanning over a million square meters. 

Other investors, including Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Al-Rushaid Group and Sawafi-Borets, are in various stages of development, ranging from facilities design to appointing building contractors.

In Dec. 2018 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid the foundation stone for a 50 square kilometer park that would become a global center for the energy industry and technology. SPARK will contribute to supporting the national economic development process for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.   

SPARK is strategically located in the eastern region of the Kingdom, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa. Last year Saudi Aramco established the Energy City Development Company to develop the park’s infrastructure, roads and facilities, and to oversee partnerships for the operation and management of logistical and residential areas. The park will serve the entire energy sector and the Arabian Gulf, connected by railway to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

SPARK aims to attract local and international industry investors across five strategic sectors including upstream, downstream, petrochemicals, power and water treatment. Investors will benefit from SPARK’s wide range of services to help them achieve success and sustainability of their projects.

Its industrial project sites offer high-quality infrastructure that includes internal road networks, an advanced network of electrical power, water, natural gas, sanitation systems, rainwater drainage and the most modern communication network in the Kingdom.

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 21 September 2020

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.