UK eyes visa change to ease trucker drought amid run on gas

UK eyes visa change to ease trucker drought amid run on gas
A sign shows fuel rationing at an Esso fuel station in Stoke-on-Trent, Britain. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 September 2021

UK eyes visa change to ease trucker drought amid run on gas

UK eyes visa change to ease trucker drought amid run on gas
  • Government said any action it took would be “very strictly time-limited”

LONDON: In a U-turn, the British government is expected to ease visa rules for truck drivers to help fix supply-chain problems that have triggered long lines at gas stations and some shuttered pumps.
The government said late Friday it was “looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems.” It said any action it took would be “very strictly time-limited.”
The haulage industry says the UK is short tens of thousands of truckers, due to a perfect storm of factors including the coronavirus pandemic, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Post-Brexit immigration rules mean EU citizens can no longer live and work visa-free in Britain, as they could when the UK was a member of the trade bloc. Trucking companies have been urging the Conservative government to ease immigration rules so drivers can more easily be recruited from across Europe.
Britain’s farming and food processing industries, which are short of fruit-pickers and meat-packers, have made similar requests.
The government has resisted, saying British workers should be trained up to take the jobs. It has stressed that Britain is not short of fuel, but that has not stopped motorists forming lines at gas stations to fill up just in case.
Sporadic supply chains at supermarkets and other shops starting several weeks ago also were attributed to a lack of delivery drivers.
BP and Esso shut a handful of their stations in Britain this week because there were not enough truckers to get gas to the pumps. EG Group, which operates about 400 UK gas stations, said it was limiting purchases to 30 pounds ($41).
In a statement, the government said Britain had “ample fuel stocks.”
“But like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary COVID-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country,” it said, not acknowledging Brexit as a factor.
The head of the Confederation of British Industry, Tony Danker, said the driver shortage was in part “a Brexit hangover.”
“We had several drivers go home that we wouldn’t have wanted to go home, and I think there is this bigger question of the immigration system, and it’s a complicated one,” he told the BBC.
Danker said easing visa rules would be “a huge relief.”
“It’s a shame the government needed queues at the pumps to move, but move I hope they have, and it will help,” he said.


SABIC announces carbon neutrality strategy at inaugural Saudi Green Initiative forum

SABIC announces carbon neutrality strategy at inaugural Saudi Green Initiative forum
Updated 27 sec ago

SABIC announces carbon neutrality strategy at inaugural Saudi Green Initiative forum

SABIC announces carbon neutrality strategy at inaugural Saudi Green Initiative forum
  • SABIC and 10 peer companies will work together to share early-stage risks and co-invest in developing and upscaling LCETs

RIYADH: SABIC unveiled its global strategy towards carbon neutrality at the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative in Riyadh on Saturday.

The event was attended by a high-level delegation from the company who joined international heads of state and global leaders of business, finance, and civil society to discuss Saudi Arabia’s vision for tackling environmental challenges.

SABIC chairman, Khalid Hashim Al-Dabbagh, said: “The SGI provides an ambitious framework aimed towards the shared goal of achieving a green future. SABIC is an active contributor to several strategic initiatives announced today, including those geared towards the production of hydrogen, reusing captured carbon, and recycling plastics.”
He added: “At SABIC, we recognize the power of collaboration to improve and protect the quality of life for the next generations. Sustainability is in our DNA and we’re pleased to contribute innovative technologies that will accelerate our journey towards carbon neutrality.”

SABIC’s Vice Chairman and CEO Yousef Al-Benyan joined an industry panel at the event to discuss the scaling up of new technologies and reasserted the company’s global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pursue carbon neutrality. 

He said that “SABIC is uniquely contributing to the SGI goals and taking bold actions that support the Kingdom’s ambitions for the circular carbon economy. Our global carbon neutrality strategy reaffirms our commitment to the Paris Agreement goals and the continuous pursuit of solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

He added: “Many countries are competing for position as the world looks to broaden its energy mix and reduce carbon emissions. The foresight of Vision 2030, our abundant renewable resources and the innovative advances made by Saudi Arabian companies are making circularity a reality, placing the Kingdom in pole position to lead the new energy revolution.”

During the session, he outlined SABIC’s key circular innovations and collaborative efforts to transform energy intensive industry towards renewables, and being a founding member of the Low Carbon Emitting Technologies (LCET) initiative with the World Economic Forum. 

In this collaboration, SABIC and 10 peer companies will work together to share early-stage risks and co-invest in developing and upscaling LCETs.

SABIC is also partnering in the development of the world’s first large-scale chemical site to operate on 100 percent renewable power and, in a different project, developing solutions for electrically heated steam cracker furnaces which could reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.

Al-Benyan also highlighted some of the company’s accomplishments including the demonstration of the blue ammonia supply chain and the development of the world’s largest CO2 capture and purification plant. Based in Jubail and operational from 2015, the pioneering facility can process up to 500,000 megatons of CO2 per year into feedstock for industrial processes.

The company’s range of certified renewable polymers are providing an important bridge for the value chain to evolve from a linear to a circular economy and its landmark plastic chemical recycling processes contribute to CO2 reduction by preventing the incineration of plastic waste.


SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors
Updated 23 October 2021

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

RIYADH: The Saudi Green Initiative is a great opportunity to create new ways of managing our industries, said Mohammed Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister for oil and gas.

Speaking at a panel discussed titled “Carbon-intensive industries: Transitioning fast, at scale” held in Riyadh on Saturday, he said the circular carbon economy is at the heart of the initiative.

He said before the launch of the green initiative, the Kingdom already embarked on an ambitious drive to improve energy efficiency in its industrial sector and achieved encouraging results. He said the chemicals, steel, and cement industries in the Kingdom have reduced emissions by about 4 million tonnes per annum.

The assistant minister said the new initiative offers several investment opportunities in recycling and waste management.

For example, he added, SABIC has already built a plant to capture 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, the gas is then purified and used to produce more chemicals and for many other purposes in different sectors, Alibrahim said.

He said the Saudi Green Initiative and the circle of carbon economy allow us to utilize carbon as a resource rather than looking at it as a problem.

“We have targets to product green hydrogen and blue hydrogen to convert it into blue ammonia, we already shipped ammonia to Japan last year and and we have a plan to expand on that.”

“We don’t want to focus on a certain type of technology.”

Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, said: “The pathway is ultimately green hydrogen, the real need is energy and even that will be needing electricity, basic ingredient is already available.” 

He called on all stakeholders to create a supporting ecosystem.

“We can really transform industrial consumption when we bring hydrogen costs down to below $2 per kilo and it is achievable.”

Jasper Graf von Hardenberg, co-founder and group CEO of Daystar, US, said: “Saudi Arabia has bigger responsibility, it can become the world No.1 producer of green hydrogen.”

Morten Dyrholm, GSVP for MarCom, Sustainability and Public Affairs, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Denmark, said: “With this plan Saudi Arabia is placing itself at the center and we want to be part of this journey.”

“As companies we need to take responsibilities with targets of net zero emissions through production.”

“Now with all policies coming up in Saudi Arabia there are signals that the Kingdom is heading to become more sustainable.”


NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO
Updated 23 October 2021

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

The city of NEOM will be ready by 2024 to receive tourists and investors, the CEO of the project has announced.

“We spent two years transforming the vision into a strategy, as this strategy concerns all sectors of NEOM,” Nadhmi Al-nasr said in an interview with Asharq.

"We finished last year with strategies, then moved on to planning and implementation and now we have entered the implementation phase,” Al-nasr added.

NEOM is set to is located on the Red Sea coast in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, and is set to be totally powered by renewable energy sources.


Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough
Updated 23 October 2021

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Riyadh: Azerbaijan believes OPEC+ is helping to stabilize the world’s oil market with its cautious decision to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day from November. 

Speaking to Arab News, the country’s energy minister warned that it is gas prices that are more volatile thanks to shortages of the energy source in Europe. 

Parviz Shahbazov said the members of OPEC+ — which includes Azerbaijan — are all in agreement about the restrained oil production rise, despite calls from the US to ramp up output.

He said that the reason “nobody talks about oil issues” is because “there is a balance in the market and this balance has been provided by OPEC+”.

He added: “It can be a little bit higher or lower, it is not so important for producing countries as well as for consuming countries because the most important thing is the stability in the oil market.”

The minister said the issues related to the increasing price of gas might continue past winter. 

“Most probably we will still have this crisis in winter time, I don’t know how severe will it be but as winter is coming and the weather is getting colder — the winter is going to be quite severe in Europe — there can be shortages of gas because gas storages are not filled before the winter season,” said Shahbazov.


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’

Updated 23 October 2021

Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


CAIRO: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan left for a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to attend the launch of the “Middle East Green Initiative Summit” in Riyadh, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

Khan left with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, and Malik Amin Aslam, PM’s adviser on climate change. 

“An initiative of the (Saudi) crown prince, the summit is the first of its kind in the Middle East region,” the statement said.

The Prime Minister Office said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had extended the invitation to the premier to attend the event on Oct. 25.

Khan, who made Pakistan a “Champions for Nature”, will share his perspective on the challenges faced by developing countries due to climate change, the statement said. 

He will also highlight Pakistan’s experience of launching “nature-based solutions” to address environmental challenges.