Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m

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

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.


Tesla to accept bitcoin again when greener

Tesla to accept bitcoin again when greener
Updated 46 min 13 sec ago

Tesla to accept bitcoin again when greener

Tesla to accept bitcoin again when greener
  • Bitcoin are produced by powerful computers that have to solve equations and consume huge amounts of electricity in the process

NEW YORK: Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, said on Sunday that the US company will accept bitcoin payments again when the virtual currency is greener.
The American manufacturer caused a sensation in February when it announced that customers could pay in cryptocurrency, an option that became possible at the end of March.
But then Musk changed his mind, indicating that bitcoin were no longer accepted — in the interest of protecting the environment.
“When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50 percent) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions,” the billionaire wrote on Twitter Sunday.
Bitcoin are produced by powerful computers that have to solve equations and consume huge amounts of electricity in the process.
The science journal Nature recently published a study showing that China’s bitcoin mines, which power nearly 80 percent of the world’s cryptocurrency trade and run in part from coal-fired power plants, risk jeopardizing the country’s climate goals.
Musk on Sunday reacted to an article raising the possibility that with his tweets, which regularly move the value of bitcoin in one direction or another, he is manipulating market prices for the benefit of his business.
“This is inaccurate,” he said. “Tesla only sold ~10 percent of holdings to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market.
The US automaker announced in early February that it had invested $ 1.5 billion of its ample cash in bitcoin and has since sold part of it.


Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury
Updated 51 min 55 sec ago

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury
  • Charter companies said they have seen an increased interest in yachting after coronavirus measures eased, especially among those who want to spend time with friends and family

DUBAI: Dubai earned a reputation for delivering luxury for those with cash to splash years ago, but amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a new mode of travel has become popular — yachts.
“It’s more private, you’re with only family and friends, and it’s the ideal outing during a pandemic,” said Nada Naeem, a 36-year-old Saudi citizen living in Dubai.
Dozens of white yachts are seen every day zipping through the emirate’s bays, canals and islands, while others are docked along the coast in Gulf waters overlooking the skyline of high-rise towers.
“You feel like you can breathe,” Naeem said, adding that she had not left Dubai since the pandemic began last year. “It’s like you’ve traveled.”
Unlike so many parts of the world, Dubai opened its doors wide open to tourists just a few months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year.
Life in the Gulf emirate — one of the first destinations to welcome visitors again last July — returned to largely normal, with restaurants and hotels up and running and beaches open to the public.
The UAE, made up of seven emirates including Dubai, launched an energetic vaccination drive with some of the highest inoculation rates worldwide, and continues to enforce strict rules on wearing masks and social distancing.
But some are fearful of overseas travel, and wary of crowded places where the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher.
For those who can afford the price tag, yachts are seen as a safer bet.
“When they eased the lockdown ... people preferred something secure and safe with regulations,” said Mohammed Al-Sayyed, manager of Royal Star Yachts charter company.
“We are providing them with the proper customer service, following all the rules, sanitizing the yacht.”
For now, yachts are allowed to operate at 70 percent capacity.
The company has a fleet that includes a 141-foot (42-meter) yacht able to host 80 passengers at full capacity — if you can afford the $4,900 price for a three-hour cruise.
Charter companies said they have seen an increased interest in yachting after coronavirus measures eased, especially among those who want to spend time with friends and family.
“People want to do sightseeing, cruising,” said Sayyed, who has been in the yacht industry for eight years. “They want to relax.”
Cheaper yachts to hire include the company’s 90-foot “Big Daddy” — capable of normally carrying 65 people, at $1,225 for three hours — down to smaller boats.
Some in Dubai said that when the price was split between a group, the cost was not as steep as it seemed at first.
“It can actually be more affordable than an all-inclusive brunch at a restaurant,” said Naeem.
And while some groups have been busted by authorities flouting the rules and slapped with hefty fines, most excursions run smoothly.
Sayyed insisted his company follows all the rules and that even on the most luxurious “party yachts,” there are COVID-19 regulations still in place, including the need for passengers to socially distance from each other and wear masks.
Dubai, known for its skyscrapers and mega-projects, boasts the most diverse economy in the oil-reliant Gulf region and has built a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub.
Tourism, which drew some 16 million visitors a year before the coronavirus hit, took a severe downturn in the first few months of the pandemic.
But a flood of arrivals since the beginning of the year has regenerated the industry, and helped many business activities recover.
Other yacht charter companies report an increase in demand for rentals in recent months.
And being out at sea doesn’t mean the guests must skimp on takeaway food or drinks. Jet skis and speed boats are on standby — for an extra fee — to take orders and deliver groceries from shore to ship.
“To go on a boat is as simple as being outdoors and being away from strangers, gathering with only those you trust,” said Palestinian Jeelan Herz, who has lived in the UAE for more than 30 years.
“It’s also something you can enjoy safely with children — go to the middle of the ocean, take part in water activities and take a nice dip.”


Kuwait’s economy contracted by 9.9% in 2020

Kuwait’s economy contracted by 9.9% in 2020
Updated 59 min 6 sec ago

Kuwait’s economy contracted by 9.9% in 2020

Kuwait’s economy contracted by 9.9% in 2020
DUBAI: Kuwait’s gross domestic product contracted 9.9 percent in 2020, compared with growth of 0.4 percent in 2019, mainly because of last year’s sharp drop in oil prices, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.
Kuwait, which makes half its revenues from oil, had its finances squeezed by an oil price crash and by the COVID-19 pandemic, while a draft law that would allow it to tap international debt has stalled amid disagreement between successive parliaments and cabinets.
The International Monetary Fund estimated in April that Kuwait’s GDP contracted 8 percent in 2020.
KUNA based its report on Central Bank of Kuwait’s governor, Mohammad Al-Hashel, who cited preliminary estimates and statistics and said the institution used all the tools available to it to blunt the pandemic’s impact.
He said preliminary estimates and statistics also showed the headline inflation rate increased to about 2.1 percent in 2020 from about 1.1 percent in 2019.
Kuwait’s population, which mostly comprises expatriate workers and their families, declined by 2.2 percent in 2020 after growing 3.3 percent in 2019.
Sources told Reuters in April that Kuwait has reached an agreement with state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation under which the company will pay the government billions in accrued dividends, part of government efforts to cover the deficit.

Oil holds near multi-year highs amid demand recovery

Oil holds near multi-year highs amid demand recovery
Updated 14 June 2021

Oil holds near multi-year highs amid demand recovery

Oil holds near multi-year highs amid demand recovery
  • The OPEC+ group has been restraining production to support prices after the pandemic wiped out demand in 2020

TOKYO: Oil prices held near multi-year highs on Monday, underpinned by an improved outlook for demand as increased COVID-19 vaccinations help lift travel curbs.
Brent crude was up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $72.83 by 0123 GMT. It rose 1.1 percent last week and hit the highest since May 2019 of $73.09 on Friday.
US West Texas Intermediate was also up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $71.05 a barrel, after reaching the highest since October 2018 at $71.24 on Friday and rising 1.9 percent on the week.
Vehicle traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels in North America and much of Europe and more planes are in the air as lockdowns and other restrictions are being eased, driving three weeks of gains for the oil benchmarks.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known as OPEC+, need to increase output to meet recovering demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report on Friday.
The OPEC+ group has been restraining production to support prices after the pandemic wiped out demand in 2020.
“OPEC+ needs to open the taps to keep the world oil markets adequately supplied,” the IEA said.
Goldman Sachs said last week it expects Brent to rise to $80 per barrel this summer as the rollout of inoculations boosts economic activity around the world.
US oil rigs rose by six to 365, the highest since April 2020, energy services company Baker Hughes Co. said in its weekly report.
It was the biggest weekly increase of oil rigs in a month, as drilling companies sought to benefit from rising demand.


Germany to set up hydrogen accord with Australia

Germany to set up hydrogen accord with Australia
Updated 14 June 2021

Germany to set up hydrogen accord with Australia

Germany to set up hydrogen accord with Australia
  • Germany’s €9 billion hydrogen strategy launched last summer is based on the assumption that some 80 percent of its hydrogen requirements may have to be imported in the long term

FRANKFURT: Germany on Sunday said it has taken steps toward a bilateral alliance on hydrogen production and trade with Australia to try and facilitate a renewable energy-based hydrogen supply chain between the countries. 

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and Education and Research Minister Anja Karliczek signed a letter of intent to set up a “Germany Australia Hydrogen Accord” with Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the Economy Ministry said in a press release. It said the cooperation was about enabling “the import of sustainably produced hydrogen in relevant volumes, which is an important factor to reach our tighter climate targets.” Australia wants to develop a clean hydrogen and ammonia production chain to cut carbon, depart from fossil fuels and build up new export markets, Taylor said in an interview in May.

The two countries can take advantage of Australia’s limitless solar resources and employ German electrolysis technology, said Altmaier.

Karliczek said her ministry will fund a technology incubator called HyGate with €50 million ($60.53 million) over three years to test technologies from production through to storage and transport. Germany’s €9 billion hydrogen strategy launched last summer is based on the assumption that some 80 percent of its hydrogen requirements may have to be imported in the long term.