Pipe dreams leave US energy firms caught in climate trap

Pipe dreams leave US energy firms caught in climate trap
Nearly half the oil and gas pipeline miles that crisscross the US are at least 50 years old. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 24 November 2020

Pipe dreams leave US energy firms caught in climate trap

Pipe dreams leave US energy firms caught in climate trap
  • The future of the Enbridge Inc. owned line supplying the region is under threat, as climate activists have widen their campaign to cut US fossil fuel dependency from new pipelines

NEW YORK: In remote northern Michigan, a propane shortage in early 2014 caused prices to nearly double, squeezing about half of the families there who rely on the fossil fuel to heat their homes.

Glenda Bowler remembers her son fitting a wood stove at his restaurant as an alternative to propane, which reaches Michigan’s Upper Peninsula via a 645-mile pipeline.

“Everybody’s thermostats got turned down, and you turned to supplemental, like wood or electric to help. I’m old, so I can’t go cut wood,” the 68-year-old said.

Now the future of the Enbridge Inc. owned line supplying the region is under threat, as climate activists widen their campaign to cut US fossil fuel dependency from new pipelines to the refurbishment or expansion of older ones.

“To speed up the extraction of what remains is an insane strategy because we need to have something that replaces that energy source in the future and we don’t have it as long as people are continuing to rely on oil,” Anne Woiwode, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Michigan chapter, said.

But as authorities worldwide face the challenge of a smooth transition to a lower-carbon future, energy firms are wrestling with investment decisions to keep their businesses running and prevent supply disruptions.

Enbridge had to temporarily close its Line 5 this summer after damage was discovered, boosting calls for the 67-year-old line carrying crude oil, propane and liquid fuels to Canada through the sensitive Straits of Mackinac, to be shut down.

Nearly half the oil and gas pipeline miles that crisscross the US are at least 50 years old. And even though the world’s largest fuel consumer is starting to rely more on renewables, fossil fuels still provide almost all of its road fuel and natural gas accounts for about 40 percent of electricity generation.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this month revoked a decades-old easement allowing the Enbridge line to operate, saying that its location and age means it poses a major risk and vowing to shut it after a transition period.

Roughly 43 percent of pipeline miles for hazardous liquids, which includes crude oil, were installed pre-1970, while 55 percent of gas transmission pipeline miles were installed before 1970, according to the US Department of Transportation.

Climate activists, Native tribes, and local opponents have waged years-long battles to prevent construction of pipelines with some, like Keystone XL, a 830,000-barrel-per-day crude expansion project, still in limbo after more than a decade.

Although the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, once the largest gas line under construction, was canceled this year, the Dakota Access LLC oil pipe and other large crude pipelines from Texas have been completed in recent years.

If existing pipelines are shut, suppliers could be forced to transport fuel and gas to consumers by rail or road.

Pipelines moved 4.4 billion barrels of foreign and domestic crude oil to refineries in 2019, while rail cars accounted for just 123.6 million barrels, or 3 percent of pipeline volumes, and trucking was about 2.4 percent of pipeline volume, US Energy Information Administration data showed.


Saudi top 10 banks see robust growth in financing and deposits

Saudi top 10 banks see robust growth in financing and deposits
Updated 28 sec ago

Saudi top 10 banks see robust growth in financing and deposits

Saudi top 10 banks see robust growth in financing and deposits

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's top 10 banks saw robust quarter-on-quarter growth in financing and deposits in the second quarter of 2021, Zawya reported, citing management consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M)'s KSA Banking Pulse.

Core operating income increased by 8.4 percent, compared to 1.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, in what is considered the fourth increase in a row, while loans and advances (L&A) increased by 13.1 percent and deposits by 12.6 percent.

L&A and deposit growth were primarily supported by the merger of National Commercial Bank and SAMBA to form Saudi National Bank (SNB), according to the report.

Operating expenses rose by 13.7 percent quarter-on-quarter and impairments jumped by 81.6 percent, affecting the second quarter's overall operating efficiency for the banking sector. This affected net profit for the top ten banks in the Kingdom.

Aggregate net income decreased over the same period by 8.1 percent to SR11 billion ($2.93 billion), while the fall in net profit was partially offset by a 11.1 percent increase in net interest income.

The top 10 banks in the report are SNB, Al Rajhi Bank, Riyad Bank , Saudi British Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Arab National Bank, Alinma Bank, Bank Albilad, Saudi Investment Bank and Bank Aljazira.


Blossoming Saudi fragrance market to hit over $3.8bn by 2030

Blossoming Saudi fragrance market to hit over $3.8bn by 2030
Updated 19 min 24 sec ago

Blossoming Saudi fragrance market to hit over $3.8bn by 2030

Blossoming Saudi fragrance market to hit over $3.8bn by 2030

DUBAI: The Saudi fragrance market is poised to reach $3.8 billion by 2030, according to a market report, with an annual growth rate of 8.2 percent from last year.

India-based P&S Intelligence said a growing trend in grooming and personal care will drive this performance of the Kingdom’s perfume sector, which in 2020 was valued at $1.74 billion.

The predicted growth follows a challenging year for industry, as manufacturing plants were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report said luxury product bifurcation will witness the fastest growth in the sector, as more consumers opt for high-end brands.

The parfum category, which uses the highest concentration of essential oils, took most of the market share in the past.

Demand for natural and organic perfumes will also increase, the report said, amid increasing brand consciousness among consumers.


Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 
Updated 54 min 27 sec ago

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

RIYADH: Egypt's Sovereign Fund plans to transform the historic Bab al-Azab area in Cairo’s Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi Citadel into the first integrated innovation zone in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bidayat Investment company, under which the company will explore opportunities for cooperation in developing Bab Al-Azab and turning it into an innovation center to embrace Egyptian youth creators, founding partner Rachid Mohamed Rachid told Asharq Business.

The center also aims at embracing startup owners in fields such as engineering design, furniture manufacturing, jewelery, fashion, as well as films, he said.

Bidayat Investment Group has already established innovation centers in several international markets, such as Italy, France and Turkey.


Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds
Updated 20 September 2021

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistani e-learning platform Maqsad has raised USD$2.1 million in its latest funding round, just months after being created.

The edtech company offers after-school academic support to youngsters in English and Urdu, and the company aims to reach 100 million students in Pakistan.

The company will use the cash to fund a production studio, academics and animators in order to develop in-house content.

Maqsad co-founder Rooshan Aziz said: “Struggles of students during the early days of the pandemic motivated us to run a pilot program. With promising initial traction and user feedback, the potential to digitize the education sector became very clear.”


American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
Updated 20 September 2021

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
  • Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network

DUBAI: Credit card giant American Express has signed a deal with Amazon Payment Services, expanding cardholders’ use for their online payments in Saudi Arabia.

Under the deal, Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network.

“By partnering with Amazon Payment Services, American Express will be able to enhance and expand the online network of merchants in Saudi Arabia where American Express cards can be used,” Peter George, managing director of the payment service, said.

This comes as e-commerce and digital payments continue to grow in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East.