ENGIE boss says Kingdom’s green hydrogen plans are a game changer

ENGIE boss says Kingdom’s green hydrogen plans are a game changer
The $500 billion megacity NEOM will be powered by Hydrogen. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 October 2021

ENGIE boss says Kingdom’s green hydrogen plans are a game changer

ENGIE boss says Kingdom’s green hydrogen plans are a game changer
  • ENGIE's Saudi CEO points to NEOM as an example of future of hydrogen economy

RIYADH: The chief executive of French owned power giant ENGIE in Saudi Arabia, Turki Al-Shehri, finds it hard to hide his excitement about green hydrogen. However, he couldn’t hide his worries on the difficulties that conventional energy projects are currently facing.

He told Arab News that financing for plants that are not green has become “much more difficult”. On projects where there is no credit rating, the firm has had to do its corporate financing at times, as well as its own credit analysis.

“This is not the ideal way to be at this stage,” he said.

On the other hand, Al-Shehri firmly believes the future is hydrogen. He said: “I think it’s a global energy changer. Green hydrogen is coming. Even before it was even a buzzword, we’ve been spending roughly €60 million a year on green hydrogen research around the world.”

Hydrogen has been the fuel of the future for decades but investment in the technology has increased in recent years.

The European Union plans to invest $430 billion in green hydrogen by 2030, and, along with Saudi countries such as Chile, Japan and Australia are investing heavily in the technology.

Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy to split water, a process called electrolysis. It is distinct from grey hydrogen, which is produced from methane and releases carbon into the atmosphere, and blue hydrogen, which captures the emissions and stores or reuses them.

Currently less than 0.1 percent of the hydrogen produced globally is green, but that is changing.

One of the Kingdom’s giga-projects, the $500 billion megacity NEOM, will be powered by green hydrogen. The huge futuristic development by the Red Sea, first announced in 2017, will cover an area 33 times the size of New York City. It will feature the latest cutting-edge technology that will see no cars on the streets while pedestrians access services through machines that can recognize their faces.

The city will be run on 100 percent renewable energy, with green hydrogen playing a big part of that.

Wind and solar energy can generate enough electricity to power homes and electric cars, but green hydrogen has the bigger potential to power large-scale manufacturing plants, as well as transport that is more difficult to electrify, such as planes, shipping and long-distance trucks.

The Kingdom enjoys the world’s cheapest wind and solar power, because of its high sunshine rates during the day and reliable winds at night, and it intends to step up its investment in green hydrogen development.

ENGIE’s Al-Shehri concedes that this type of power is more expensive than fossil fuels, but adds that the low cost of green energy in the Middle East makes it an attractive option that even has export potential.

Last July, NEOM, Saudi energy firm ACWA Power and US company Air Products signed a $5 billion deal to build the world’s largest green hydrogen plant to supply 650 tons per day of carbon-free hydrogen by 2025.

Al-Shehri calls the deal a “fantastic achievement,” adding: “I think we’re going to continue to see similar opportunities with respect to ENGIE."

The energy boss says the key to getting these early-stage green projects off the ground is companies finding government projects that come with guarantees to take the power produced at an agreed price.

“Green financing from good credit rating agencies of government projects is not a problem at all,” he said.

In March, ENGIE in Saudi Arabia signed a $450 million deal to build the first large-scale desalination project in the Kingdom partly powered by solar panels.

ENGIE has a 25-year concession to run the plant, Yanbu-4, based 140 km west of Medina, which is due to come on stream in the final quarter of 2023.

Construction on the project will create 500 jobs, with around 40 percent going to Saudis.

Al-Shehri said at the time: “Our objective will be to create local jobs, support increasing foreign direct investment, diversify the economy, and harness the global expertise of ENGIE into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”


Indian e-scooter startup to invest up to $330m in new factories

Indian e-scooter startup to invest up to $330m in new factories
Updated 8 sec ago

Indian e-scooter startup to invest up to $330m in new factories

Indian e-scooter startup to invest up to $330m in new factories

RIYADH: Indian electric vehicle startup Simple Energy is seeking to invest ($330 million) to increase production of electric scooters with the help of the southern state Tamil Nadu’s government.  

The Bengaluru-based startup is building a facility located an hour away from Hosur, which is expected to become operational in 2022 with a production capacity of 1 million electric scooters per year, Bloomberg reported. 

It also plans to launch a second larger plant in Dharmapuri in 2023, with an annual production capacity of 12.5 billion scooters. 

Simple Energy aims to raise “three digit millions” in another funding round, after raising $21 million earlier, Bloomberg reported citing the CEO Suhas Rajkumar. 


Citigroup sets its preferences for a $3bn sales in Asia

Citigroup sets its preferences for a $3bn sales in Asia
Updated 1 min 12 sec ago

Citigroup sets its preferences for a $3bn sales in Asia

Citigroup sets its preferences for a $3bn sales in Asia

RIYADH: US-based investment bank Citigroup has chosen favourable bidders for its consumer assets in Asian markets.

The investment banking company chose Bangkok’s Bank of Ayudhya to buy its retail assets in Thailand, with an expected potential $2 billion deal to be negotiated in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reported. 

Citigroup has picked Singapore-based United Overseas Bank in Indonesia, with a sale that could raise several hundred million dollars.

Standard Chartered was selected in Malaysia to buy the US lender’s retail consumer assets, and Taiwan’s Fubon Financial Holding Co. was chosen for the Chinese assets. 

Citigroup made the moves in order to focus its wealth business around hubs in Hong Kong, London, Singapore and the UAE.


$870m floating hotel in Dubai to start receiving visitors in 2023

$870m floating hotel in Dubai to start receiving visitors in 2023
Updated 11 min 5 sec ago

$870m floating hotel in Dubai to start receiving visitors in 2023

$870m floating hotel in Dubai to start receiving visitors in 2023

RIYADH: The Kempinski Floating Palace, a luxury hotel, plans to open in Dubai at the beginning of 2023, local media reported on Wednesday.

The project worth 870 million dirhams ($236.9 million) has 156-rooms and a suite hotel. 

Anchored next to Jumeirah Beach Road, visitors can arrive by speedboat or directly with their own boats to the floating palace.

Kempinski includes 12 other floating luxury villas, which are grouped with the possibility to sail to other anchorages, according to reports.

“We are delighted to be able to offer our guests in Dubai such a first experience from 2023 onward,” Bernold Schroeder, CEO of Kempinski Group and chairman of Kempinski AG, was quoted as saying.


Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn
Updated 25 min 16 sec ago

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Tthe Central Bank of Egypt's net foreign reserves went up by about $60 million in November to hit $40.91 billion, the bank said on its website on Dec. 7.

This reflected an annual growth rate of 4.3 percent, slightly up from the previous month’s expansion of 4.2 percent. 

Net reserves also increased by $1.68 billion since November 2020.

Egypt’s foreign reserves are made up of gold, foreign currency and special drawing rights. The latter is a type of reserve asset that is held by the International Monetary Fund.

In June 2021, the country confirmed its pledge to maintain an adequate level of foreign reserves during the economic reform program to meet the IMF’s metrics for flexible exchange rate regimes. One of those measures is through an accumulation of net foreign reserves.

Egypt’s gross official reserves reached $40.6 billion in June this year, slightly lower than the IMF projection of $41.1 billion revealed in the Fund's country report published in July.

Since June 2021 the country’s gross official reserves have increased by $325 million and reached $40.92 billion at the end of November.


Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe
Updated 08 December 2021

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Rosneft and Gazprom to prepare a proposal for the former to export natural gas from Russia to Europe via pipelines, Interfax news agency reported.

The proposal, if approved, would end Gazprom’s monopoly on gas exports since 2006. The decision will be taken in cooperation with the government and the two energy companies.

According to Interfax, the joint proposal on a pilot project for Rosneft to export of up to 10 billion cubic meters of Russian piped gas to the European market should be submitted to Putin by March 1.

Allowing Rosneft to export gas from Russia will solve the problem with the full load of the Nord Stream 2 and OPAL pipelines, which Gazprom cannot fully use due to the norms of the Third Energy Package of the EU, Interfax said citing the company.

In August, earlier this year, Russia’s Kommersant reported that Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin asked Putin to allow the company to export 10 bcm of natural gas a year through an agency agreement with Gazprom. “The company does not have significant free volumes of gas right now and is planning to significantly increase production only in 2022,” Kommersant said in an article published on Aug. 27 without identifying the source.

In 2020, Rosneft produced 62.8 bcm of natural gas, 6 percent less than in 2019, according to the company’s annual report.

In November 2021, the company’s output of natural gas came in at 4 bcm, down 5.1 percent from October and up 10.8 percent from the same month a year ago, analysts at Renaissance Capital wrote in a research note published on Dec. 6.