Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline
Hydrogen is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future. Green hydrogen is produced using solar energy, and is a major feature of the energy equation at the planned NEOM megacity. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline
  • Hydrogen is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future
  • The need to fight global emissions is key to the “circular carbon economy” championed by Saudi Arabia as a way to achieve climate change goals

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is offering to transport “green” hydrogen by pipeline to Europe in the next stage of the Kingdom’s strategy to combat climate change.

“If Europe would like to buy more hydrogen, Saudi green hydrogen, we would be more than happy, and even, if the economics allow for it, even piping it all the way to somewhere in Europe,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman said.

He also hinted at major developments to come in solar energy production. “I believe in the next month or so we’ll dazzle the world with how cheaply we can get our solar electricity,” he said.

Prince Abdul Aziz was speaking at a virtual meeting of the International Energy Forum and the European Union hosted in Riyadh, at which he added detail to the Kingdom’s strategy to control harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

Hydrogen is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future. Green hydrogen is produced using solar energy, and is a major feature of the energy equation at the planned NEOM megacity. In another form, “blue ammonia” is a byproduct of the oil refining process that Saudi Aramco has already produced and exported to Japan.

The need to fight global emissions is key to the “circular carbon economy” championed by Saudi Arabia as a way to achieve climate change goals, and was endorsed by G20 leaders last year under the Saudi presidency.

Prince Abdul Aziz appealed for “flexibility” by other countries in the debate over how best to mitigate climate change.

 

 

“The goal is to be flexible and mindful of the participants and their priorities,” he said.

Some countries, especially in Europe, have said they would like to move away more quickly from hydrocarbon fuels. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, believes this is the wrong approach.

To address climate change, Prince Abdul Aziz said, “you need to bring everybody on board and you need to be mindful of their priorities and you need to be mindful of how much (energy resources] they are endowed with.

“But I can guarantee you that we’re opening hands, hearts and minds to work with everybody and bring solutions to move forward and work with these ambitions, but with a difference — we are not bragging about it, not talking about it, we are executing these things and providing people with examples.

“Trust us, but more important, collaborate with us in universal solutions.”


Bitcoin hits record high before Nasdaq listing

Bitcoin hits record high before Nasdaq listing
Updated 1 min 18 sec ago

Bitcoin hits record high before Nasdaq listing

Bitcoin hits record high before Nasdaq listing
  • Bitcoin, which has growing mainstream acceptance as an investment and a means of payment, rose as much as 5 percent on Tuesday

LONDON: Bitcoin hit a record of $62,741 on Tuesday, extending its 2021 rally to new heights a day before Coinbase’s share listing in the US.

The largest US cryptocurrency exchange’s listing on the Nasdaq on Wednesday is considered a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency, which has growing mainstream acceptance as an investment and a means of payment, rose as much as 5 percent on Tuesday. Smaller rival Ethereum also reached a record high of $2,205. Major firms including BNY Mellon, Mastercard Inc. and Tesla Inc. are among those to have embraced or invested in cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin topped $60,000 early last month, fueled by Tesla’s move to buy $1.5 billion of the digital currency for its balance sheet. For the past two weeks, it had traded in a tight range. “When bitcoin markets create new highs the price often range-trades and we witness a round of profit-taking,” said James Butterfill of digital asset manager CoinShares.

“During this most recent period have witnessed a similar profit-taking round, which now looks to have run its course.”

The multi-fold rise in cryptocurrencies is also driven by investors seeking high-yielding assets amid low interest rates.


Saudi fintech startup secures $670k seed funding

Saudi fintech startup secures $670k seed funding
Updated 7 min 32 sec ago

Saudi fintech startup secures $670k seed funding

Saudi fintech startup secures $670k seed funding
  • New legislation in Saudi Arabia will make e-invoicing necessary in all transactions

JEDDAH: Saudi fintech startup Prexle has raised SR2.5 million ($670,000) in seed funding from angel investors, the company announced this week.

A cloud-based point-of-sale software startup, Prexle’s platform helps retail store owners control inventories, customer demands, purchasing orders, discounts and generate business performance reports.

In a press statement, CEO and co-founder Abdullah Al-Ajlan said: “We’re happy to close our round of investment, which is going to surely help us improve the retail industry in the Kingdom through employing the latest technologies in the point-of-sale industry.”

Yazeed Al-Saif, co-founder and chief technology officer, added: “We value our investors’ trust. This round marks an important milestone in our journey to change the way retail works, and will allow us to even further develop and improve our product.”

By the end of 2021, new legislation in Saudi Arabia will make e-invoicing necessary in all transactions, and Prexle is one of the companies that stands to benefit from this requirement.

The number of digital payment transactions in the Kingdom surged 75 percent in 2020 as Saudi consumers embraced online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

The total number of digital transactions last year amounted to about 2.8 billion, an increase of 75 percent compared with the same period in the previous year. The value of these transactions totaled about SR349 billion, an increase of almost 24.1 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

Network International, the UAE-based digital payment processor which this month told Arab News it is pushing ahead with a Saudi expansion later this year, reported that the amount of non-cash payments it processed in the Kingdom grew from 8 percent in 2017 to 16 percent in 2019, making Saudi Arabia one of its fastest growing markets.


Emirati Coffee set to expand into Saudi Arabia

Emirati Coffee set to expand into Saudi Arabia
Updated 12 min 23 sec ago

Emirati Coffee set to expand into Saudi Arabia

Emirati Coffee set to expand into Saudi Arabia
  • Emirati Coffee reported a 3,135 percent increase in online sales in 2020, fueled by strong market demand for its specialty coffee produce

JEDDAH: Emirati Coffee, the UAE’s first specialty coffee roastery, is expanding into the Kingdom with the opening of its first Saudi branch in July 2021. The chain, which currently has 160 locations worldwide, will open in Alkhobar under the brand name Knowhere.

The company is preparing to open an outlet in Riyadh in 2022.

Mohamed Ali Al-Madfai, CEO of Emirati Coffee, told Arab News that the Riyadh outlet would be called the Emirati Coffee Roastery.

Al-Madfai said he believed there was great potential for growth in the Saudi market and that he is aiming to capitalize on the brand’s popularity among Saudi travelers, “especially those that came to love that brand when visiting Dubai pre-pandemic,” he said. Emirati Coffee reported a 3,135 percent increase in online sales in 2020, fueled by strong market demand for its specialty coffee produce.

The busiest period was during the first two months of the pandemic, when the UAE launched a national sterilization campaign to contain the virus. “Coffee was already the number one e-commerce grocery product before 2020, but the pandemic boosted the growth due to greater consumption at home.

Coffee buyers cut back on trips to the supermarket and coffee drinkers can’t go to the cafés,” Al-Madfai said.

He added: “Consumers resorted to online purchases and with the availability of our own delivery fleet, they were able to get their hands on their cup of coffee.”


Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal

Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal
Updated 18 min 47 sec ago

Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal

Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal
  • Biden has promised to reveal the nonbinding but symbolically important 2030 goal before the Earth Day summit opens April 22

WASHINGTON: More than 300 businesses and investors, including such giants as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, are calling on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate change goal that would cut US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The target would nearly double the nation’s previous commitment and require dramatic changes in the power, transportation and other sectors. President Joe Biden is considering options for expected carbon reductions by 2030 ahead of a virtual climate summit the US is hosting later this month.

The so-called Nationally Determined Contribution is a key milestone as Biden moves toward his ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Biden has promised to reveal the nonbinding but symbolically important 2030 goal before the Earth Day summit opens April 22.

“A bold 2030 target is needed to catalyze a zero-emissions future, spur a robust economic recovery, create millions of well-paying jobs and allow the US to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic,” the businesses and investors said in a letter to Biden. “New investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation can build a strong, more equitable and more inclusive American economy,” they wrote.

An ambitious 2030 target would guide the federal government’s approach to sustainable and resilient infrastructure, as well as zero-emissions vehicles and buildings, and “would inspire other industrialized nations to set bold targets of their own,” the group wrote.

Besides the tech and consumer products giants, companies with major energy holdings, including Exelon, General Electric, PG&E and Edison International, also signed the letter.

The letter comes as fissures between corporate America and the Republican Party have opened over the GOP’s embrace of conspiracy theories and rejection of mainstream climate science, as well as its dismissal of the 2020 election outcome. The most recent flashpoint was in Georgia, where a new Republican-backed law restricting voting rights drew harsh criticism from Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, whose headquarters are in the state, and resulted in Major League Baseball pulling the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta.

More than 100 business leaders participated in a Zoom call last weekend to discuss how to oppose Republican-backed proposals across the country that could limit voting. Options include stopping political donations and holding off in investments in states that approve the laws.

On climate, the business leaders told Biden they “applaud your administration’s demonstrated commitment to address climate change head-on, and we stand in support of your efforts.”

Millions of Americans are already feeling the impacts of climate change, they wrote, citing the severe winter storm that caused blackouts in Texas and other states, deadly wildfires in California and record-breaking hurricanes in the Southeast and Gulf Coast.

“The human and economic losses of the past 12 months alone are profound,” they wrote. “Tragically, these devastating climate impacts also disproportionately hit marginalized and low-income communities who are least able to withstand them. We must act now to slow and turn the tide.”

While Biden has reentered the US into the Paris climate accord and made climate action a pillar of his presidency, more action is needed, the business leaders said. “An effective national climate strategy will require all of us,” they told Biden, but “you alone can set the course by swiftly establishing a bold US 2030 target.”


Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation
Updated 13 April 2021

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

CAIRO: The megaship which blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal and crippled world trade for nearly a week has been “seized” on court orders until the vessel’s owners pay $900 million, canal authorities said Tuesday.
The 200,000-ton MV Ever Given got diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, triggering a mammoth six-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.
Maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage by the vessel, longer than four football fields, held up an estimated $9.6 billion-worth of cargo between Asia and Europe each day it was stuck.
Egypt also lost between $12 and $15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to the canal authority.
The MV “Ever Given was seized due to its failure to pay $900 million” compensation, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram, a state-run newspaper.
Rabie did not explicitly cite the Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha, but a different source at the SCA told AFP Tuesday that negotiations over damages between that company, insurance firms and the canal authority were ongoing.
The Japanese-owned, Taiwanese-operated and Panama-flagged ship was moved to unobstructive anchorage in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake after it was freed on March 29, and tailbacks totalling 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.
The compensation figure was calculated based on “the losses incurred by the grounded vessel as well as the flotation and maintenance costs” Rabie said, citing a ruling handed down by the Ismailia Economic Court in Egypt.
The grounding of the ship and the intensive salvage efforts are also reported to have resulted in significant damage to the canal.
In its court filing, the SCA referred to Articles 59 and 60 of Egypt’s maritime trade law which stipulates that the ship would remain seized until the amount is paid in full, Al-Ahram reported.
But analysts have warned that apportioning legal responsibility for losses incurred by the numerous parties is likely to play out in protracted and complex international litigation.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ruled out any widening of the southern stretch of the canal where the boat became diagonally stuck.
El-Sisi oversaw an expansion of a northern section, which included widening an existing stretch and introducing a 35-kilometer (21-mile) parallel waterway, to much fanfare in 2014-15.
But that was achieved at a cost of over $8 billion, without significantly increasing revenues from the canal.
The Suez Canal earned Egypt just over $5.7 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, according to official figures — little changed from the $5.3 billion earned back in 2014.
Egyptian authorities have presented the dislodging of the ship as a vindication of the country’s engineering and salvage capabilities, but observers point also to the crucial role played by international salvage experts.