How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans
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Updated 16 October 2021

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

The importance of the oceans to the future of our planet has never been as clear as it is today. The UN has declared 2021 the start of a “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” with the aim of sharing knowledge to protect and nurture this extraordinary natural resource for future generations. At Saudi Aramco, we believe that oceans are a shared inheritance: Covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, they connect every continent in a global ecosystem that is as complex as it is irreplaceable.

Long-term thinking

Aramco welcomes the UN drawing attention to the importance of marine environments and recognizes the need for action on multiple fronts to protect life and livelihoods. This is why we have long partnerships with scientists, researchers and other experts on a wide range of initiatives — including gathering a wealth of unique data, particularly on the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The projects Aramco has launched to protect marine ecosystems are global in scope — with a particular focus on coral-reef regeneration and mangrove restoration. Other projects include protecting endangered marine turtles and cultivating marine algae to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to reduce the impact of climate change. We have also set up community outreach and education programs to share knowledge with students and children, so they grow up understanding the importance and value of the oceans too.

Gathering data

Behind Aramco’s environmental work lies a valuable resource that we are keen to share with the world: Scientific data. To protect any marine environment, you have first to find out what is there, and we have been monitoring the waters in parts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf region for decades, frequently visiting the same reefs.

Our scientists and experts have been collecting valuable information regarding wave height, currents, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, clarity, salinity and the concentration of chlorophyll, the pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis. Aramco wants to help the global scientific community by giving free access to this data to support other environmental projects, and we are already partnering with several international organizations, such as the C4IR Ocean and its Ocean Data Platform, to further this aim.

Regenerating coral reefs

In terms of our projects, we have supported the regeneration of endangered coral reefs. Around the world, these precious and fragile ecosystems — which provide a habitat for hundreds of marine species while also forming a natural barrier against coastal erosion —have become degraded. This damage has multiple causes, including coastal and offshore development, illegal fishing practices, pollution, and the rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change.

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, Aramco took action through a series of initiatives in the Arabian Gulf, Florida, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Caribbean. In the Arabian Gulf, for example, most coral communities are in the vicinity of offshore islands, and we realized one of the factors preventing damaged reefs from regenerating was a lack of hard ground on which the coral could reform. We, therefore, designed and built a series of strong and stable artificial reef structures on the seabed, which the coral could then recolonize, providing a new habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms. Our scientists closely monitor these regenerated reefs, which have been a great success: fish are thriving and the variety of marine life has increased, while the reefs are more resilient.

Seeding mangroves

A second area in which Aramco is playing a prominent role is the planting of millions of mangrove trees in coastal regions. Restoring degraded mangrove forests in this way has great benefits for both biodiversity and carbon capture, through which trees and plants extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere. Research shows that mangrove trees are about five times more effective at sequestering CO2 than terrestrial rainforest trees, making them an effective nature-based solution for combatting climate change. We know these projects are having a significant impact and, building on this success, Aramco aims to plant more mangrove trees in Saudi Arabia and around the world, in partnership with global leaders, through projects in South East Asia, Australasia, South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, and South Asia. It is a truly global undertaking.

Commitment to environment

Aramco also recently developed a new corporate biodiversity protection policy, which requires that all new Aramco projects have a net positive impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The great benefit of this approach is that the diversity of living things in any area in which Aramco is operating — whether terrestrial, coastal, or marine — is taken into consideration before any new project can begin. If a negative impact on biodiversity is identified, then it must be avoided, mitigated, or offset as a last resort. This environmental approach is now mandatory across all our projects and operations.

The company’s first environmental protection policy was introduced as long ago as 1964 and we recently published a book documenting The Ecosystem and Biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf, summarizing 50 years of scientific research between Aramco and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Our recently published Marine Atlas of the Western Arabian Gulf provides a baseline of marine ecosystems and their locations. Both books illustrate the beauty and biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf’s marine ecosystems, their sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Our environmental partners include global organizations, regional working groups and local universities, such as KFUPM and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Our commitment to the world’s oceans is clear: We intend to protect and support them with care, investment and expertise; always working to ensure that Aramco operations don’t adversely impact the marine environment, and enhancing it wherever we can.

 

  • Dr Khaled Asfahani is head of Marine Environment Protection at Aramco & Dr Loughland is an environment consultant at Aramco.

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis
Updated 26 November 2021

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

RIYADH: US investment bank Moelis & Co. plans to open an office in the Saudi capital Riyadh and will soon begin hiring staff in the Kingdom, Bloomberg reported.

The New York-based company sees the Kingdom attracting more foreign investors and benefiting from an “energy supercycle,” Vice Chairman Eric Cantor said in an interview.

The boutique financial adviser, founded by Wall Street veteran Ken Moelis, wants to do more deals in the region as the world’s biggest oil exporter prepares for as many as 160 privatizations in 2022, as well as a flood of initial public offerings to the Kingdom’s stock market.

“We are waiting for a final stamp on our license,” Cantor said. “It’s forthcoming and part of that is hiring Saudis,” he said, without saying how many people the bank wants to employ.

Moelis has its main office for the Middle East in Dubai. The move to open one in Riyadh comes as Saudi Arabia pushes international firms to relocate their regional headquarters there.

 


Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO
Updated 26 November 2021

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

RIYADH: Oil demand will return to 2019 levels by the end of 2022, despite some delays in projects due to repercussions from the pandemic, Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli told Al-Arabiya.

National oil companies in the Middle East have been preparing for the increased demand, while international oil companies, especially those in North America, have been maintaining financial discipline in returning funds to shareholders, he said.

However, some independent oil companies have already begun to increase their capital spending, he said.

Currently, Baker Hughes sees an improvement in oil and gas services activity, not only in North America, but also in international basins with low costs, he said.

When it comes to developing its products, Baker Hughes always takes into account carbon emissions and the Texas-based energy services company is trying to shift its sources in its manufacturing operations to renewables and has contracted with suppliers, Simonelli said.

The company pledged to reduce carbon emissions of the first and second scope by 50 percent by 2030, and to zero by 2050, Simonelli said. The company is now concerned with dealing with third scope emissions, he said.

 


Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 
Updated 26 November 2021

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

RIYADH: Venture capital impact investment in Saudi Arabia reached a new high in 2021 in both total number of transactions and capital deployed, according to a report produced by MAGNiTT and Saudi Aramco.

Impact investments are those aimed at generating a measurable social and environmental benefit alongside a financial return. 

Impact funding in the Kingdom up to the third quarter of 2021 was 130 percent higher than in 2020 in terms of funding, and 21 percent higher in transactions.

Some $444 million were invested through 403 deals with impact-driven startups across the Middle East and North Africa between 2016 and the third quarter of 2021, according to the report.

Of those deals, 20 percent involved Saudi-based firms.

Flat6Labs was the leading impact investor in startups based in the MENA region with 45 transactions between 2016 and the third quarter of this year to date. 

The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, 500 Startups, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Innovation Fund, Oasis 500 and Falak Startups invested in 12 or more funding rounds raised by impact-driven startups in MENA.

The education and healthcare technology sectors accounted for the highest share in total impact VC deals, collectively registering 40 percent of all transactions in MENA from 2016 to the third quarter of this year to date.

The energy sector played a key role in impact investments across MENA, with 95 percent of all funding going to startups within the impact ecosystem.

 


Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap
Updated 26 November 2021

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin led a rout in cryptocurrencies on Friday as investors fled assets considered riskier, including stocks and commodities, and headed for the refuge of government bonds, the Japanese yen and the US dollar.

Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant that may evade vaccines and spread more quickly than previous mutations were seen as responsible for the movements.

Bitcoin, the largest digital currency, fell as much as 9.2 percent to $53,551, its lowest since Oct. 10. That would be Bitcoin’s biggest one-day decline since Sept. 20, leaving it more than one-fifth lower since hitting a record high of nearly $70,000 earlier in November.

The second-largest cryptocurrency, Ether, fell over 13 percent to its lowest in a month, trading at $3,924, down almost 20 percent from its record high, hit on Nov. 10.

A number of European and Asian nations have suspended travel to and from southern Africa after a potentially more deadly COVID-19 variant emerged in Botswana and South Africa. The variant has so many mutations that current vaccines may not be effective against it, according to scientists.

“The spread of (the variant), especially to other countries, could wither investor appetite further,” said Yuya Hasegawa at Tokyo-based exchange Bitbank. “BTC's upside will likely be limited and the market should brace for further loss.”

While cryptocurrencies wobbled, a plot of land in Axie Infinity, an animated, metaverse pet-training game, sold for $2.5 million on Thursday, according to a tweet on the game’s Twitter account.

The sale, for 550 ether, was the highest for a single plot of virtual land, according to the tweet. The transaction was for a section of Genesis land, one of several types available in the game.

A larger sale of virtual real estate took place on Monday in Decentraland. In that transaction, 618,000 MANA, worth about $3.2 million at the time, bought 116 land parcels, according to Tokens.com, whose Metaverse Group subsidiary made the purchase.

Interest in the metaverse has surged in recent months, spurred by Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in October in a sign of its increasing focus on the sector.

Revenue from virtual gaming worlds could grow to $400 billion in 2025, from $180 billion in 2020, Grayscale Investments said on Thursday. The overwhelming majority of that $400 billion will be in-game spending, compared to spending on premium games, the company said.

Grayscale defined the metaverse as “interconnected, experiential, 3D virtual worlds where people located anywhere can socialize in real-time to form a persistent, user-owned, internet economy spanning the digital and physical worlds.”


Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says
Updated 26 November 2021

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says
  • Maroun said the company’s priority is growth not profitability as it seeks to increase its market share from 6 percent

RIYADH: Lebanon’s Anghami, known as the Spotify of the Arab world, will not postpone its merger with the blank-check company Vistas Media in a potential $90 million deal, according to the firm’s CEO.

Eddie Maroun said the agreement had suffered a delay due to the procedures of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US, but the deal will still go ahead.

The process is currently in its final stages, and the implementation will be announced very soon, he told Al-Arabiya on Thursday.

Maroun said the company’s priority is growth not profitability as it seeks to increase its market share from 6 percent.

He expects Anghami to achieve profitability within three years, he added.

Subscriptions represent 80 percent of the company’s revenue with the rest coming from advertising, Maround said.

Founded in 2012 in Lebanon, Anghami is the first legal music streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa region.