PIF-backed ACWA Power starts work on South African project

PIF-backed ACWA Power starts work on South African project
1 / 2
Medina Acwa Power Vaccine Center. (Shutterstock)
PIF-backed ACWA Power starts work on South African project
2 / 2
Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of Acwa Power.
Short Url
Updated 11 May 2021

PIF-backed ACWA Power starts work on South African project

PIF-backed ACWA Power starts work on South African project
  • The $828 million Redstone concentrated solar power plant will start operations in Q4 2023

RIYADH: ACWA Power, the utility developer backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), on Monday announced it had started construction on South Africa’s largest ever renewable energy project.

The Redstone concentrated solar power (CSP) plant begun construction after it raised 11.6 billion rand ($828 million) from a range of South African and international banks. Once complete, the Redstone plant will power 200,000 households. It is due to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and chief executive officer of ACWA Power, said in a press statement: “Redstone CSP adds another superlative to our budding record in South Africa, being the largest renewable energy investment to date. As grid links are improved, the ingenuity of the private sector together with the great support of experienced finance partners has the potential to spark lasting impact for local communities and address the threats of climate change.”

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, in November last year increased its stake in ACWA Power to 50 percent from 33.6 percent. “We believe that ACWA Power will play a significant role in both driving and diversifying economic growth in the future — while also providing enduring commercial return for the people of the kingdom,” the fund said in a statement at the time.

Riyadh-headquartered ACWA Power in January also signed a $125 million financing deal with the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP). The five-year Shariah-compliant corporate facility will be used by ACWA Power to develop its pipeline of future projects.


PIF-backed ACWA Power raises $750m from maiden sukuk

PIF-backed ACWA Power raises $750m from maiden sukuk
Updated 1 min 29 sec ago

PIF-backed ACWA Power raises $750m from maiden sukuk

PIF-backed ACWA Power raises $750m from maiden sukuk
  • The company has announced a number of large-scale international projects in recent months

RIYADH: ACWA Power, the utility developer backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), on Tuesday announced it had raised SR2.8 billion ($750 million) from its first sukuk issuance.

The sukuk will have a seven-year tenor and was 1.8 times oversubscribed, the company said in a statement. Fund managers, government funds and insurance companies accounted for about 30 percent of investors.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power, said: “The success of the issuance is proof of the wider market’s faith in KSA’s bond market and ACWA Power’s strong credit fundamentals, which have attracted a diverse pool of sophisticated investors.”

He said that the issuance is also “a vote of confidence from investors in our ability to capture large opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other growth markets, thanks to our de-risked and 100 percent contracted business model that is well diversified across different technologies and geographies.”

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, in November last year increased its stake in ACWA Power to 50 percent from 33.6 percent.

“We believe that ACWA Power will play a significant role in both driving and diversifying economic growth in the future, while also providing enduring commercial return for the people of the kingdom,” PIF said in a statement at the time.

Riyadh-based ACWA Power in January also signed a $125 million financing deal with the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation. The five-year Shariah-compliant corporate facility will be used by ACWA Power to develop future projects.

The company has announced a number of large-scale international projects in recent months. In December, it signed an agreement for $300 million of renewable energy projects in Azerbaijan, including the country’s first wind power facility.

In April, the company struck a deal to build a wind power plant in northwest Uzbekistan, the largest of its kind in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world.


What happened at China’s Taishan nuclear reactor?

What happened at China’s Taishan nuclear reactor?
Updated 7 min 17 sec ago

What happened at China’s Taishan nuclear reactor?

What happened at China’s Taishan nuclear reactor?
  • The plant is facing an ‘imminent radiological threat,’ Framatome warned

SHANGHAI: French energy company EDF is investigating a potential issue linked to a buildup of inert gases at its nuclear plant in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong.

The probe comes after CNN reported that the US government was assessing a report of a leak at the Taishan power station. The report was made by Framatome, the EDF business that designed the plant’s reactor and remains involved in its operations. 

Framatome warned that the plant, a joint venture with China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) that is located around 200 kilometers from Hong Kong, was facing an “imminent radiological threat.”

Here is what we know so far.

What happened at Taishan?

According to CNN, US officials have been investigating the Framatome claims of a leak for the past week.

EDF, which has a minority stake in the plant, said a buildup of krypton and xenon — both inert gases — had affected the primary circuit of Taishan Unit 1, but added that it was a “known phenomenon, studied and provided for in the reactor operating procedures.”

Majority owner CGN also said in a statement that operations at the plant met safety rules.

Radiation levels in the vicinity were still normal on Monday, according to real-time data from the China Nuclear Safety Administration (CNSA). 

According to CNN, Framatome’s warning included an accusation that CNSA was raising acceptable radiation limits outside the Taishan plant to avoid having to shut it down. 

The regulator did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in a regular briefing the plant was fully compliant with all requirements and operating normally.

What are the risks?

Nuclear experts have generally played down the risks. CNN cited US officials as saying that the dangers to the public were currently minimal.

Li Ning, a Chinese nuclear scientist based in the United States, told Reuters that CNN was “making a mountain out of a molehill” and that it was unrealistic to expect “zero failure” in the fuel cladding of nuclear projects anywhere in the world.

Li said the media were “often unwilling to put risks into proper perspective,” which he said had effectively killed off the nuclear industry in the west.

“Coal fired power plants can emit and discharge more radioactivity than nuclear power plants,” Li said.

Why is the US govt involved?

CGN, China’s largest state-owned nuclear company, was placed on a US blacklist in Aug. 2019 for allegedly making efforts to acquire advanced US technology and material for diversion to military uses in China. 

That means that Framatome, which has operations in the United States, would need a waiver from the US government to allow it to help CGN fix technological problems, Li said.

China’s foreign ministry has said the blacklist is a misuse of export control measures.

What is Taishan’s safety records?

Minor safety issues have been quite frequent at Taishan. In March, inspectors checking a faulty voltmeter in Unit 1 accidentally caused an electrical malfunction that triggered an automatic shutdown, according to CNSA incident records. In April, a burst of radioactive gas unexpectedly entered a pipe at Unit 1’s waste gas treatment system just as workers were trying to seal it, also triggering an alarm, CNSA said.

What is an ‘EPR’?

Formerly known as a “European Pressurised Reactor,” the EPR is a “third-generation” nuclear technology that includes enhanced safety features as well as greater generation capacity.

It was designed by Framatome together with Germany’s Siemens. Its third-generation rivals now include Westinghouse’s AP1000, Russia’s VVER-1200 and China’s Hualong One. In 2006, EDF and fellow French nuclear group Areva lost a bid to build four reactors on China’s eastern coast, with China opting for Westinghouse’s model after signing a deal to transfer core technology for use in its own projects.

In 2007, EDF agreed to build two EPRs at Taishan, which would be 70 percent-owned by CGN. Construction got underway in 2010. Originally scheduled to be connected to the grid within four years, the first unit wasn’t completed until December 2018.

What next?

EDF did not provide a timeframe for completion of its investigation, nor did US officials, according to the CNN report.

Problems at the Taishan project are unlikely to dent China’s nuclear ambitions, but they underscore the challenges facing foreign reactor developers in a market increasingly dominated by domestic players.

China fell short on its 2020 nuclear capacity target. Many complained the sector’s expansion was derailed not only by the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but also by the lengthy delays and spiralling costs at foreign-designed projects.

As it steps up the construction of new plants, China is now expected to depend primarily on its own third-generation Hualong One design, but it is also helping to finance the construction of an EPR project at Britain’s Hinkley Point. 


Egypt looking to boost agricultural exports to $2.2bn

Egypt looking to boost agricultural exports to $2.2bn
Updated 13 min 1 sec ago

Egypt looking to boost agricultural exports to $2.2bn

Egypt looking to boost agricultural exports to $2.2bn
  • The country’s exports of agricultural crops declined by 2.9 percent year on year during the 2019-2020 export season to $2.16 billion

CAIRO: Egypt is aiming to grow its agricultural exports to $2.2 billion by September, the end of the current export season, according to Abdel Hamid Demerdash, head of the country’s Agricultural Export Council.

The country’s exports of agricultural crops declined by 2.9 percent year on year during the 2019-2020 export season to $2.16 billion.

Demerdash said that the sector exports to about 140 countries, including 30 new countries over the last two years.

He added that the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult For Egyptian businesses to conduct trade visits abroad or organise business trips into Egypt that would boost the volume of exports.

Despite these problems, the sector was able to achieve growth of 1 to 2 percent compared with pre-pandemic results.

Demerdash said that Egyptian authorities will begin to register all export farms and packaging stations in accordance with a decision by the minister of agriculture.

Saudi Arabia recently ordered that Egyptian fruit and vegetable exports are to be subjected to microbiological analysis, as well as lab tests, in order to detect the potential presence of the hepatitis A virus or pesticide residues.

Once cleared, each shipment will be issued with a conformity certificate.

The agricultural chief said that Egypt reviewed the new Saudi requirements after a delegation from the Kingdom visited Egypt to be briefed on the new measures.

Demerdash added that the Kingdom is one of Egypt’s largest export markets, and measured the value of agricultural and food exports at about $540 million.


Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
Updated 15 June 2021

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
  • The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals"

RIYADH: The Saudi National Development Fund is preparing to launch a new fund targeting infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals", Asharq Business reported, citing unidentified sources.
Muhammad bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, deputy chairman of the National Development Fund said in February that the Kingdom had started to work  on the launch of an infrastructure fund.
Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious SR12 trillion ($3.2 trillion) program in March to boost the role of the private sector in diversifying the economy.
Under the 'Shareek program', private sector businesses will be helped to invest SR5 trillion between now and 2030, along with SR3 trillion from the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and SR4 trillion as part of a new national investment strategy.

 


Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
Updated 15 June 2021

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
  • A sale could value Octal at about $800 million

RIYADH: Octal, an Omani plastics packaging manufacturer, is considering a majority stake sale, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
A sale could value Octal at about $800 million, one of the people said. The company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co., the people said, asking not to be identified for information confidentiality.  
The Muscat-based company has already attracted strategic suitors in Asia and the US, they said.
Octal was founded in 2006 and produces plastic used to package food and consumer products. The company is present in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the US and ships its products to more than 75 countries, according to its website.
The potential sale would add to the $96 billion of deals targeting companies in the Middle East and Africa this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.