Saudi, Korean firms sign multiple business deals as countries partner on developing hydrogen economy

Update Saudi, Korean firms sign multiple business deals as countries partner on developing hydrogen economy
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Updated 19 January 2022

Saudi, Korean firms sign multiple business deals as countries partner on developing hydrogen economy

Saudi, Korean firms sign multiple business deals as countries partner on developing hydrogen economy
  • Under agreements signed during the visit, Seoul will be able to secure carbon-neutral hydrogen and ammonia supplies from the Kingdom
  • PIF, Aramco led Saudi firms signing deals with Korean companies
  • Moon is scheduled to meet Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General to discuss a free trade agreement with GCC.

SEOUL: Saudi Arabia and South Korea agreed to work together in developing the hydrogen economy, President Moon Jae-in’s office said, after the Korean leader’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“After holding the talks at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh, the two nations signed preliminary deals to jointly develop green hydrogen, which is produced from renewable energy sources, especially solar and wind, and jointly build a hydrogen ecosystem,” Moon’s office said in a statement.

Under the deals, Seoul will be able to secure carbon-neutral hydrogen and ammonia supplies from the Kingdom. It will also help Riyadh operate hydrogen-powered cars and hydrogen fueling stations.

Moon is on the second leg of his trip to the Middle East with economic diplomacy, artificial intelligence, public health and energy cooperation high on the agenda.

On Wednesday, Moon is scheduled to meet Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajjraf to discuss a free trade agreement between Seoul and the GCC.

Saudi-Korea business forum

After the talks with the Crown Prince, the South Korean president delivered a keynote speech at a business forum in Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia, which has the potential to produce clean hydrogen such as green and blue hydrogen, and South Korea, which has strengths in hydrogen utilization based on hydrogen-powered cars and fuel cell technology, must closely cooperate to lead the global hydrogen economy,” Moon said, as quoted by South Korea’s main news service Yonhap News Agency.

The Saudi-Korean Business Forum culminated today in 13 investment agreements in such areas of strategic interest as clean energy and manufacturing, smart infrastructure and digitalization, capacity building, SMEs, healthcare and life sciences.

The Public Investment Fund and Aramco signed many deals with leading Korean companies including Posco, in which the PIF owns a 38-percent stake.

Saudi Investment Minister Khaled Al-Falih and Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Moon Sungwook held a meeting for the Saudi-Korean Vision 2030 committee, SPA said.

The committee was created in 2017 to harness complementary resources to generate economic benefits and business opportunities in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and Korea’s Five-Year (2017-2022) Plan for the Administration of State Affairs.

Deals

  • Saudi Ministry of Investment signed an agreement with Samsung C&T to help it develop and localize industries related to construction technologies and green products and around investing in building and financing infrastructure projects.
  • The PIF signed an MoU with Korean firms POSCO and Samsung C&T to study and develop a green hydrogen production project in KSA for export purposes, while MISA signed a joint cooperation with Samsung C&T in the field of green hydrogen for pre-cast concrete blocks and infrastructure.
  • Saudi Aramco signed an MoU with Korea Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO, for a pre-feasibility study on blue ammonia and blue hydrogen for investment, production, logistics and sales, an agreement with POSCO regarding investment in blue ammonia and blue hydrogen and a basic terms agreement with Export-Import Bank of Korea for framework agreements that include a credit limit of up to $6 billion. Saudi Aramco also signed a series of agreements with S-Oil around areas including research and development, blue hydrogen and technology development.
  • The Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Co. (Dussur), Saudi Aramco and Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction signed an agreement to establish a high-efficiency factory in iron molding and forging in Ras Al-Khair, with a production capacity of 83,000 tons annually. The deal is expected to attract foreign investment, transfer quality technology to Saudi Arabia and localize supply chains for strategic sectors in the equipment industry for the oil and gas, water, energy and marine industries.
  • Saudi real estate developer ROSHN and Samsung C&T agreed to establish a non-exclusive framework to jointly explore opportunities in housing development and pre-cast concrete blocks.
  • The Korean Intellectual Property Office and the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) signed advanced partnership arrangements for bilateral cooperation, including the secondment of Korean experts to SAIP
  • The Ministry of National Guard signed a letter of intent agreement with EzCaretech to jointly provide and implement Dr. Answer – an artificial intelligence-based medical solutions tool – within targeted hospitals.
  • Kumho Tire and Al-Sahm Al-Usud for Tires signed a technical partnership agreement to establish a factory for tire production. The factory’s production capacity will reach 15 million tires annually, and production is expected to start in the third quarter of 2023.

Saudi-Korea trade

Saudi Arabia is South Korea’s top economic and trade partner in the Middle East, contributing over 30 percent of Seoul’s total crude oil imports in 2021, according to data by the Korea International Trade Association.

The Kingdom and the Republic of Korea have a long history of partnership, beginning with the establishment of diplomatic relationships 60 years ago. This relationship has benefitted both countries economically, with bilateral trade increasing from $3.9 billion in 1980 to $25.5 billion in 2019.

Earlier this month, South Korea’s Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook met Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman in Riyadh for talks on cooperation in nuclear power and other energy fields in transition to a low carbon economy.

So far, joint Saudi-Korean projects amount to 120 with a value of around $1 billion, of which 20 percent are industrial projects.

Trade exchange between both countries has increased by 66 percent during the third quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year, jumping to SR27.7 billion ($7 billion), according to SPA.  

UAE-Korea cooperation

The trip to Saudi Arabia follows Moon’s four-day visit to the UAE that included the signing of a $3.5 billion to sell Korean surface-to-air missiles KM-SAM, known as Cheongung II.

In addition to the arms export deal — the largest such agreement in South Korea’s history — Abu Dhabi and Seoul agreed to expand their cooperation in the development of carbon-capture technologies to create what is known as blue hydrogen, as the East Asian nation seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Blue hydrogen is obtained from natural gas in a process that stops carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.


Oil prices up 2 percent on supply outages

Oil prices up 2 percent on supply outages
Updated 01 July 2022

Oil prices up 2 percent on supply outages

Oil prices up 2 percent on supply outages

LONDON: Oil prices rose about 2 percent on Friday, recouping most of the previous session’s declines, as supply outages in Libya and expected shutdowns in Norway outweighed expectations that an economic slowdown could dent demand, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures were up $2.20, or 2 percent, at $111.23 a barrel by 1348 GMT, having dropped to $108.03 a barrel earlier in the session.

WTI crude futures gained $2.25, or 2.1 percent, to $108.01 a barrel, after retreating to $104.56 a barrel earlier.

Both contracts fell around 3 percent on Thursday, ending the month lower for the first time since November.

We “still see risks to prices as skewed to the upside on tight inventories, limited spare capacity and muted non-OPEC+ supply response,” Barclays said in a note.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation declared force majeure on Thursday at the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports as well as the El Feel oilfield. Force majeure is still in effect at the ports of Brega and Zueitina, NOC said.

Production has seen a sharp decline, with daily exports ranging between 365,000 and 409,000 bpd, a decrease of 865,000 bpd compared to production in “normal circumstances,” NOC said.

Elsewhere, 74 Norwegian offshore oil workers at Equinor’s Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East platforms will go on strike from July 5, the Lederne trade union said on Thursday, likely halting about 4 percent of Norway’s oil production.

Ecuador’s government and indigenous groups’ leaders on Thursday reached an agreement to end more than two weeks of protests which had led to the shut-in of more than half of the country’s pre-crisis 500,000 bpd oil output.

On Thursday, the OPEC+ group of producers, including Russia, agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.

Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 bpd per month.

US President Joe Biden will make a three-stop trip to the Middle East in mid-July that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, pushing energy policy into the spotlight as the United States and other countries face soaring fuel prices that are driving up inflation.

Biden said on Thursday he would not directly press Saudi Arabia to increase oil output to curb soaring prices when he sees the Saudi king and crown prince during a visit this month.

A Reuters survey found that OPEC pumped 28.52 million bpd in June, down 100,000 bpd from May’s revised total.

Oil prices are expected to stay above $100 a barrel this year as Europe and other regions struggle to wean themselves off Russian supply, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, though economic risks could slow the climb.

India introduced export duties on gasoil, gasoline and jet fuel on Friday to help maintain domestic supplies, while also imposing a windfall tax on oil producers who have benefited from higher global crude oil prices. 


Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project
Updated 01 July 2022

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed full control over a major oil and natural gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian firm, a bold move amid spiraling tensions with the West over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine, according to Associated Press.

Putin’s decree late Thursday orders the creation of a new company that would take over ownership of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co., which is nearly 50 percent controlled by British energy giant Shell and Japan-based Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Putin’s order named “threats to Russia’s national interests and its economic security” as the reason for the move at Sakhalin-2, one of the world’s largest export-oriented oil and natural gas projects.

The presidential order gives the foreign firms a month to decide if they want to retain the same shares in the new company.

Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom had a controlling stake in Sakhalin-2, the country’s first offshore gas project that accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s market for liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Japan, South Korea and China are the main customers for the project’s oil and LNG exports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that there is no reason to expect a shutdown of supplies following Putin’s order.

Shell held a 27.5 percent stake in the project. After the start of the Russian military action in Ukraine, Shell announced its decision to pull out of all of its Russian investments, a move that it said has cost at least $5 billion. The company also holds 50 percent stakes in two other joint ventures with Gazprom to develop oil fields.

Shell said Friday that it’s studying Putin’s order, which has thrown its investment in the joint venture into doubt.

“As a shareholder, Shell has always acted in the best interests of Sakhalin-2 and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements,” the company said in a statement. “We are aware of the decree and are assessing its implications.”

Seiji Kihara, deputy chief secretary of the Japanese cabinet, said the government was aware of Putin’s decree and was reviewing its impact. Japan-based Mitsui owns 12.5 percent of the project, and Mitsubishi holds 10 percent.

Kihara emphasized that the project should not be undermined because it “is pertinent to Japan’s energy security,” adding that “anything that harms our resource rights is unacceptable.”

“We are scrutinizing Russia’s intentions and the background behind this,” he told reporters Friday at a twice-daily news briefing. “We are looking into the details, and for future steps, I don’t have any prediction for you at this point.”

Asked during a conference call with reporters if Putin’s move with Sakhalin-2 could herald a similar action against other joint ventures involving foreign shareholders, Peskov said, “There can’t be any general rule here.”

He added that “each case will be considered separately.”

Sakhalin-2 includes three offshore platforms, an onshore processing facility, 300 kilometers of offshore pipelines, 1,600 kilometers of onshore pipelines, an oil export terminal and an LNG plant.
 

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Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer
Updated 01 July 2022

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, has dropped 72 places in a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expats as it tumbled out of the top 100, according to a report issued by Mercer.

Riyadh was positioned at 103 in Mercer's Cost of Living Index 2022, falling from 29 in the previous year’s list. 

Commenting on Riyadh’s fall, Khaled Al-Mobayed, CEO of Menassat Reality Co., a Riyadh-based real estate developer, said: “The results came in contrary to the expectations, due to the pandemic’s ongoing consequences and the rising cost of logistics and supply chain.”

“Being out of the 100 top expensive cities is a good sign despite the challenges that the economy has gone through,” he added.

UAE's Dubai took over Lebanon's capital, Beirut, as the most expensive city among Arab countries in the region, ranking 31.

Despite being placed third in 2021, Beirut was not even on this year’s list of 227 cities due to the country’s economic turmoil.

The city’s fall reflects the severe drop in value of the Lebanese pound, according to Lebanese economic analyst Bassel Al-Khatib, who pointed out the minimum wage is now worth $20, while it was $450 before the economic crisis gripping the country. 

“Lebanon is extremely expensive to those who get paid in Lebanese pounds yet very cheap for those who get pain in US dollars,” he told Arab News, adding: “Lebanon was expensive for both citizens and foreigners, and with the currency dropping 95 percent and the dollar reaching record levels, the situation changed.”

“Everything has become expensive but not for foreigners who have dollars. All services by the government such as water, electricity fees, or internet are still the same but food prices skyrocketed,” he added.

Abu Dhabi was the second highest Arab city from the region, ranked at 61, while Jeddah came in at 111 this year compared to 94 in 2021.

Jordan's capital Amman ranked 115, followed by Bahrain's Manama at 117, Oman's Muscat at 119 and Kuwait city at 131.

Egypt's capital, Cairo, was placed at 154 while Rabat, Algiers and Tunis came as the least expensive in the region, ranking 162, 218 and 220 respectively.

Hong Kong topped the list as the most expensive city in the world in 2022, moving from second rank last year and taking the top spot from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat.

Switzerland’s Zurikh and Geneva followed as second and third most expensive cities, replacing Hong Kong and Beirut respectively.

Turkey’s capital, Ankara, came in as the least expensive city, ranking 227, taking the spot from Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.


France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official
Updated 01 July 2022

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

RIYADH: France is intensifying efforts to take advantage of Saudi investment opportunities in all sectors, mostly energy, technology, water and other industrial services, the country's Ambassador in Saudi Arabia said.

Saudi Arabia is an attractive region and a suitable environment for investments in all its vital sectors, Ludovic Pouille told a press conference.

The French government and the private sector are working to expand the number of companies operating in the Kingdom, which currently stands at about 135, Aleqtisadiah reported citing Pouille.

The aim is to gain large investment spaces, and to benefit from the reforms and economic developments undertaken by Saudi Arabia, which constitute a good opportunity for French companies, he said. 

The French ambassador said France will take the model of agreements between the Al-Ula Authority and his country’s institutions in the fields of infrastructure and culture, as a starting point for expanding the map of investments in the future.


New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon
Updated 01 July 2022

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new AlNama smart city will be a zero-carbon community, according to the company charged with designing the development.

The hospitality hub, located on a 10 sq. km area in Riyadh, will create 10,000 jobs in various sectors, including green-tech industries to create a ‘green circular economy’, Construction Week reported. 

The project is planned to provide 11,000 residential units and an eventual population of 44,000 people.

ALNAMA will be designed by Dubai's URB, and the firm’s CEO Baharash Bagherian said: “AlNama aims to be the next generation of self-sufficient city, producing all the city’s renewable energy needs, as well as the resident’s caloric food intake on site.

“Biosaline agriculture, productive gardens, wadis, and carbon-rich habitats are key features of the development’s innovative and resilient landscape design.

“The city was planned through the design of its landscape, rather than its buildings. This creates an urbanism that is more socially inclusive, more economically valuable, and more sensitive to the environment.”

AlNama will consist of eco-friendly glamping lodges, eco resorts and a nature conservation center to promote ecotourism, while an autism village, wellness center and clinics within the medical hub will help promote medical tourism.

The green-tech hub will provide an innovative ecosystem for urban-tech companies related to food, energy, water, waste, mobility, and building materials