Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms
Saudi Aramco has signed memorandums of understanding with six firms as part of an expansion of its program to increase local content and boost domestic supply chains. (Aramco)
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Updated 30 November 2020

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms
  • Aramco said the signings paved the way for new business launches across several innovative growth sectors

LONDON: Saudi Aramco has signed memorandums of understanding with six firms as part of an expansion of its program to increase local content and boost domestic supply chains, the company announced on Monday.

The agreements are with: Dutch Shell & AMG Recycling, Suzhou XDM, Shen Gong, Xinfoo, SUPCON, and Posco.

Aramco said the signings paved the way for new business launches across several innovative growth sectors, including steel plate manufacturing, industrial 3D printing and digital equipment manufacturing, and marked a “significant milestone” in its in-Kingdom total value add (IKTVA) program.

The announcement was a “step change” in Aramco’s pioneering IKTVA program,  the company’s president and CEO Amin Nasser said. “Despite the uncertainties surrounding the global economy, we have sustained our focus on our long-term goals to enable growth and development for a thriving ecosystem and a more diversified Saudi economy.”

The collaborations would advance innovation, sustainability and enhance the scale of reliability, Nasser added. 

“These partnerships will also have a strong focus on new technologies, by maximising our investments in non-metallic materials and the circular carbon economy, as well as the development of talented Saudis in communities where we operate.”

Ahmad Al-Saadi, Aramco’s senior vice president of technical services, said the company had a history of supporting the local business ecosystem.

“Our IKTVA program is a manifestation of our commitment to this and the resulting investments, either directly by Aramco or indirectly by suppliers, have promoted localization, contributed to Aramco’s supply chain resilience and enhanced Saudi Arabia’s economic growth,” he said

“Our planned partnerships will continue this journey and advance the Kingdom’s economic progress. We intend to act as an enabler, supporting the growth of national champions. We are expanding our flagship program, and expect more partnerships in the future.”

The six agreements:

POSCO – an agreement to collaborate on evaluating the feasibility of constructing an integrated steel plate manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia.

Suzhou XDM 3D Printing Company Ltd – an agreement to collaborate on industrial 3D printing technologies and development in Saudi Arabia.

SHEN GONG New Materials (Guang Zhou) Co. Ltd –  an agreement to focus on developing control systems technologies for LED lighting, energy management and intelligent control.

XINFOO Sensor Technology Company Limited – an agreement to explore opportunities in chip manufacturing and related technologies.

Shell & AMG Recycling B.V.  – an agreement to explore collaboration to develop plans for a state-of-the-art regional hub for the recycling of gasification ash and reclamation of spent catalysts, in addition to providing sustainable solutions.

Zhejiang SUPCON Technology Co. Ltd - an agreement to explore potential joint investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia for the services and manufacturing value chain.


Britain’s Lloyd Bank to close another 48 branches

Britain’s Lloyd Bank to close another 48 branches
Updated 11 sec ago

Britain’s Lloyd Bank to close another 48 branches

Britain’s Lloyd Bank to close another 48 branches

LONDON: Lloyds Banking Group will close a further 48 branches across England and Wales, the British lender said on Wednesday, as it seeks to further cut costs by trimming its physical network.

The closures are the latest in a string of such moves by the bank, which in June announced the closure of 44 different branches.

Banks have stepped up branch closures after many paused restructuring for much of last year to focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The announcement by Lloyds Banking Group of closing a further 48 bank branches is a complete betrayal of the communities and staff who have long supported this highly profitable business,” said Sharon Graham, general secretary of employment union Unite.

Lloyds said it is responding to customers using branches less frequently, and that it is piloting a scheme whereby ‘community bankers’ visit customers in their areas.


Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 55 min 13 sec ago

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said users switching from gas to oil could account for demand of 500,000-600,000 barrels per day (bpd) depending on winter weather and related energy prices.


Prince Abdulaziz said that the rise in energy prices now is the result of limited investment in hydrocarbons, low inventories and post pandemic demand recovery.


Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses
Updated 20 October 2021

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

RIYADH: The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has launched its fifth round of fintech sandbox licenses, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A sandbox, established through the regulator’s Financial Technology Lab, allows fintech startups and other firms to conduct live experiments under its supervision.

The authority said it will accept applications for financial technology test permits from firms until December 15.

The body launched its first fintech sandbox in February 2018, handing out 17 permits across five different product areas that included social trading platforms and automated advisor services.


Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap
Updated 20 October 2021

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

In its new regional outlook, the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for Asia in 2021 to 6.5 percent, compared to the 7.6 percent it speculated in April. 

The international organization cited supply chain disruptions, inflation fears and a rise in Covid-19 infections as factors that could hamper growth in the region.

However, the 2022 growth forecast has been upwardly tweaked to 5.7 percent — up from the 5.3 percent April forecast.

Meanwhile, China is expected to grow by 8 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2022.

UK inflation eases

The UK’s annual inflation rate tapered off to 3.1 percent in September 2021 down from its nine-year high of 3.2 percent in August, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed. 

Transport prices rose by 8.4 percent, helping fuel some of the country’s inflationary pressures. Conversely, rises in restaurants and hotels costs eased to 5.1 percent in September compared to 8.6 percent in August.

Month-on-month inflation also decreased to 0.3 percent in September — down from 0.7 percent in August.

In addition, the yearly core inflation rate, which excludes price changes in volatile items like food and energy, reached 2.9 percent in September, falling from 3.1 percent in the previous month.

German producer prices

Germany’s annual rise in producer prices climbed to 14.2 percent in September, according to official data.

Surging energy prices, last year’s low base effects and the current supply chain problems all meant that the country experienced its highest increase since October 1974.

Energy costs leapt by 32.6 percent while prices of intermediate goods rose by 17.4 percent.

This was accompanied by a month-on-month 2.3 percent increase in producer prices in September.

Japan’s trade deficit

The Japanese trade balance recorded a deficit of JPY622.8 billion ($5.44 billion) in September, compared to a JPY667.4 billion ($5.83 billion) surplus in the same month of last year, official data showed. This is the second consecutive month in which a deficit was posted for the country. 

Japanese imports leapt to a 34-month high of JPY7,463 billion ($65.19 billion) in September as it increased by an annual rate of 38.6 percent. Energy imports soared by 90 percent while purchases of electrical machinery jumped by 33.2 percent. Australian imports experienced the highest increase, climbing by 99.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s exports jumped by 13 percent year-on-year to JPY6,841 billion ($59.76 billion) in September 2021. This was fuelled by a 23.7 percent increase in machinery exports. Exports of chemicals also rose considerably, growing by a 27.4 percent yearly rate.

Fed to hold on rates

A majority of economists expect the Federal Reserve to wait until 2023 before raising its rates, a survey conducted by Reuters showed.

Surveyed economists think that the biggest risk facing the US economy in the coming period is rising inflation.

China’s FDI 

Based on China's commerce ministry data, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the country surged by 19.6 percent in the first nine months of 2021, when compared to the same period of the last year, to reach $134.7 billion.


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program
Getty Images
Updated 20 October 2021

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program
  • The fiscal balance program - a set of reforms aimed at balancing the budget - was linked to the pledged $10 billion

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates reiterated their support for Bahrain's plans to balance its budget, a move expected to help their neighbor in the debt capital markets despite delays in plans to fix its heavily indebted finances.


The three Gulf allies extended a $10 billion aid package to Bahrain in 2018 to help it avoid a credit crunch.

Last month Bahrain said that due to the coronavirus crisis last year, it had postponed the target year for a balanced budget to 2024, and announced plans to hike a value-added tax to boost state coffers.


The fiscal balance program - a set of reforms aimed at balancing the budget - was linked to the pledged $10 billion.

The ministers of finance of wealthier Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE met with Bahrain's finance minister on Oct. 19 to discuss Bahrain's progress in improving its finances.

"The ministers welcomed the efforts made by the government of Bahrain in implementing the Fiscal Balance Program, and the progress made by the government despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic", the three countries said in a joint statement.

"The Ministers affirmed their support to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s efforts in pursuing further reforms to enhance fiscal stability and strengthen sustainable economic growth."

Bahrain's delaying of its fiscal balance program, which pushed back the zero-deficit target by two years, was seen as unlikely to deter investors from buying its debt due to expectations of continued support from richer Gulf allies, bankers and analysts have previously told Reuters.

Bahrain's public debt climbed to 133 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 102 percent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

S&P forecasts Bahrain's budget deficit, which was 16.8 percent of GDP last year, to average 5 percent between 2021 and 2024, excluding the impact of a possible hike in value-added tax.

The Arab Monetary Fund assessed the fiscal program achievements, the statement said.