Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m

The program takes a three-pronged approach that includes advanced atmospheric geophysical surveys, multicomponent geochemical surveys and production of detailed geological maps. (SPA)
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Updated 19 October 2020

Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m

  • Six-year long program will help boost the Kingdom’s mining sector

RIYADH: The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) on Sunday signed several contracts with international organizations and consultants to carry out projects related to the geological survey general program.

It is one of the largest geological surveys in the world, with the budget for all its stages amounting to SR2 billion (over $530 million).

The signing ceremony was held under the auspices of Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef and was attended by Investment Minister Khalid Al-Faleh, Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser, foreign envoys and representatives of the international firms awarded the contracts.

Alkhorayef said signing these contracts marks the beginning of the Kingdom’s massive data collection efforts. “It is the first step toward making the mining sector the third pillar” of the Saudi industrial landscape, he said.

The minister said the program will ensure gathering more reliable and accurate data about the Kingdom’s mineral resources, which will help the relevant authorities tap into the vast mineral wealth and lay a solid foundation for a sustainable national economy.

The program takes a three-pronged approach that includes advanced atmospheric geophysical surveys, multicomponent geochemical surveys and production of detailed geological maps.

Providing details about the contract in a statement, the SGS said one of the contracts includes a technical partnership deal with a consortium including International Geoscience Services Co. and Geological Survey of Finland.

A multicomponent geochemical survey contract for the Arabian Shield has been awarded to China Geological Survey. It is aimed at collecting and analyzing more than 110,000 samples of valley sediments and heavy metals in the Arabian Shield over the next 6 years.

Dr. Zhong Ziran, China’s vice minister for geological survey, said that the contract marked the beginning of a great cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China.

The SGS awarded the contract for advanced aerial geophysical survey contract for Sector No. 1 of the Arabian Shield to Sander Geophysics Ltd.

Under the deal, the company will collect and analyze geophysical data, produce various digital geophysical maps, and identify rock formations and evidence of mineralization in the region.

The program currently aims to survey nearly 600,000 sq. km. of the mineral-rich Arabian Shield region.

The other three contracts were awarded to Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics to carry out advanced aerial geophysical survey of sectors 2 and 3 of the Arabian Shield.

Simon Bush, CEO of Xcalibur, said: “It gives me great pleasure to work with the Saudi Geological Survey.”

All these programs seek to boost the contribution of the mining sector to the Kingdom gross domestic product and create 220,000 new jobs.

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom

Updated 25 October 2020

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom

  • The four giants drawing the most scrutiny — Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — have been wildly successful in recent years

SAN FRANCISCO: Big Tech is bracing for a tumultuous week marked by quarterly results likely to show resilience despite the pandemic, and fresh attacks from lawmakers ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

With backlash against Silicon Valley intensifying, the companies will seek to reassure investors while at the same time fend off regulators and activists who claim these firms have become too dominant and powerful.

Earnings reports are due this week from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google-parent Alphabet, whose combined value has grown to more than $7 trillion.

They have also woven themselves into the very fabric of modern life, from how people share views and get news to shopping, working, and playing.

Robust quarterly earnings results expected from Big Tech will “highlight the outsized strength these tech behemoths are seeing” but “ultimately add fuel to the fire in the Beltway around breakup momentum,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

The results come amid heightened scrutiny in Washington of tech platforms and follow a landmark antitrust suit filed against Google, which could potentially lead to the breakup of the internet giant, illustrative of the “techlash” in political circles.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have voted to subpoena Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook respectively, as part of a stepped-up assault on social media’s handling of online political content, notably the downranking of a New York Post article purported to show embarrassing information about Democrat Joe Biden.

CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are already slated to testify at a separate Senate panel on Wednesday examining the so-called Section 230 law, which offers liability protection for content posted by others on their platforms.

The four giants drawing the most scrutiny — Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — have been wildly successful in recent years and have weathered the economic impact of the pandemic by offering needed goods and services.

Google and Facebook dominate the lucrative online ad market, while Amazon is an e-commerce king.

Apple has come under fire for its tight grip on the App Store, just as it has made a priority of making money from selling digital content and services to the multitude of iPhone users.

The firms have stepped up lobbying, spending tens of millions this year, and made efforts to show their social contributions as part of their campaign to fend off regulation.

“For the most part, tech companies know how to do this dance,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

“They don’t spend a lot of time bragging about how well they have done any more.”

Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research said the outlook for Big Tech may not be as rosy as it appears.

“For one, regulators at home and abroad are gunning to rein in some of the largest US technology names,” Yardeni said in a research note.

Of interest to the market short-term will likely be whether backlash about what kind of content is left up and what is taken down by online titans causes advertisers to cut spending on the platforms.

Economic and social disruption from the pandemic also looms over tech firms, which benefitted early in the pandemic as people turned to the internet to work, learn, shop and socialize from home.

“Performance will be best for those providing solutions for people working at home,” analyst Enderle said.

Amazon, Google and Microsoft each have cloud computing divisions that have been increasingly powering revenue as demand climbs for software, services and storage provided as services from massive datacenters.

Amazon has seen booming sales on its platform during the pandemic, and viewing surge at its Prime streaming television service.

Enderle expressed concern that with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and a lack of new stimulus money in the US, tech companies could reveal in forecasts that they are bracing for poorer performance in the current quarter.