Saudi Aramco balances competing priorities as IKTVA enters 6th year

Saudi Aramco balances competing priorities as IKTVA enters 6th year
Saudi Aramco is playing an active role in the diversification of the Saudi economy — ironically, away from a dependence on oil and its derivatives. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi Aramco balances competing priorities as IKTVA enters 6th year

Saudi Aramco balances competing priorities as IKTVA enters 6th year
  • New and existing energy sources need to act in parallel for a long time, says CEO

LONDON: The focal point of Saudi Aramco’s forthcoming In-Kingdom Total Value Add Forum will be the company’s initiative, launched in 2015, to further develop a local supply chain. 
In Aramco’s own words, the intention is to “transform and diversify the Kingdom’s economy through partnership and collaboration, creating high-skilled jobs for the Saudi population (and building) a resilient economy for the future.” 
The IKTVA program opens many opportunities for both companies and workers in Saudi Arabia, and reflects the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 — but what of Aramco itself?
As the world’s leading crude oil supplier, with an output of some 10 million barrels per day, Aramco currently has a daily turnover of SR32.6 billion ($8.7 billion). That adds up to some $317.5 billion per annum, up from gross revenue of $205 billion and net revenues of $49 billion in the financial year 2020 — the last full year reported. 

With an income of such magnitude, Aramco would seemingly have little to worry about.
However, broader global issues require Aramco to come up with innovative strategies to overcome both present and future headwinds.
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, articulated an “anti-oil” sentiment held by many countries, with a broad consensus to transition the global economy away from fossil fuels in favor of more environmentally friendly energy sources including solar, wind, tidal and geothermal. 
There is a shift, which began in earnest by Tesla and now includes legacy auto manufacturers such as VW, Volvo and Mercedes, from petrol/diesel engines to battery-powered electric vehicles. This trend is growing at an exponential pace, with Forbes reporting that almost 20 percent of cars purchased in China in the fourth quarter of 2021 were electric. This is likely the shape of things to come for the rest of the world.
These developments put Aramco in the spotlight as a giant of the carbon fuel sector, alongside a possible danger of becoming the world’s leading supplier of a gradually redundant commodity. 
However, the reality behind the headlines is that global oil demand is actually on an upward tangent, as the world emerges from an industrial dip caused by the two-year COVID-19 pandemic. 
According to a report from the US Energy Information Administration released on Jan. 11: “Rising economic activity and the easing of pandemic-related restrictions on other activities resulted in global oil consumption rising by 5.5 percent in 2021 from 2020.”
The same report goes on to state that with oil consumption outpacing production, the fourth quarter of 2021 saw significant increases in prices of the commodity, with Brent crude oil spot increasing from an average of $43 per barrel in the third quarter of 2020 to an average of $79 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2021. 
Current oil prices are even higher, with the various grades of Arabian crude hovering between $87 and $89 per barrel.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The EIA predicts that total world petroleum consumption of 96.9 million barrels per day in 2021 will slightly increase to 100.5 mbpd in 2022.  Is that level of demand sustainable? Aramco, for one, believes the answer is yes. 
“(Energy) alternatives are nowhere near ready to carry a big enough load, so new and existing energy sources will need to operate in parallel for a long time,” Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser declared at the World Petroleum Council Congress, held in Houston in December 2021. 
Nasser went on to say that while “Aramco is committed to a net-zero economy … there are still no truly viable alternatives to conventional fuels in aviation, shipping, and even trucking.”
He added: “Oil and gas will be needed for decades to come, and accelerating the reduction in their emissions is a strategic and urgent necessity for climate goals to be met. We are not short of opportunities, such as producing lower carbon products like blue hydrogen and blue ammonia; developing more efficient and lower emission internal combustion engines; and making the Circular Carbon Economy that G20 world leaders endorsed last year a reality.”  
In short, Aramco seeks to maintain its dominant position in the global oil sector while aiming to emerge as a future leading producer of clean fuels — a two-pronged approach that is evident in several recent deals in both Europe and Asia.
With regards to oil supply, in the past fortnight Aramco acquired a range of assets from Poland’s state-owned energy corporation Orlen PKN, including a major oil refinery and hundreds of petrol stations, in a deal worth $288 million. A contract was also signed for Aramco to supply Orlen with 200-337,000 barrels of oil per day, adding more purchases to those agreed earlier. 
In terms of “new” energy, Aramco has also recently entered into agreements with two large South Korean entities — Korea Electric Power Corporation and the S-Oil Corporation — to conduct feasibility studies for the future supply of blue hydrogen, a petrol substitute with far lower carbon emissions.   
As Saudi Aramco balances these competing global priorities, it is simultaneously playing an active role in the diversification of the Saudi economy — ironically, away from a dependence on oil and its derivatives, and with an emphasis on small-to-medium sized enterprises as opposed to major conglomerates.
The company has a lot on its plate and the IKTVA Forum will no doubt offer a platform to further clarify its strategy and philosophy going forward.


Saudi Power Procurement Co. receives A1 rating from Moody's

Saudi Power Procurement Co. receives A1 rating from Moody's
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi Power Procurement Co. receives A1 rating from Moody's

Saudi Power Procurement Co. receives A1 rating from Moody's

RIYADH: Saudi Power Procurement Co., the sole licensed principal buyer of electricity in Saudi Arabia, received an A1 rating from Moody's Investors Service on May 23.

The rating reflects SPPC’s low-risk profile, the transparency of its regulatory framework, and its ability to maintain a good liquidity profile despite the high seasonality of working capital, it said.

"The A1 issuer rating and stable outlook assigned to SPPC are aligned with that of the Government of Saudi Arabia, because of the company's very close integration into the public sector, with a clear public policy mandate that aligns SPPC's interests and objectives with those of the government," Moody's lead analyst on SPPC, Paul Feghaly, said. 

 


BlackRock, Fidelity among bidders for UAE’s Borouge $2bn IPO: Bloomberg

BlackRock, Fidelity among bidders for UAE’s Borouge $2bn IPO: Bloomberg
Updated 4 min 52 sec ago

BlackRock, Fidelity among bidders for UAE’s Borouge $2bn IPO: Bloomberg

BlackRock, Fidelity among bidders for UAE’s Borouge $2bn IPO: Bloomberg

RIYADH: Borouge’s $2 billion initial public offering has drawn interest from big investors, including the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock Inc. and Fidelity.

The UAE-based firm received bids from the two international funds for the share sale that could value it at $20 billion at listing, Bloomberg reported citing unnamed sources.

Borouge had generated orders at 17 times the amount offered as of mid-day May 25, the third day of book-building, which will run until May 30, Bloomberg’s sources noted.

Other sources told Al Arabiya that the total requests reached 21 times coverage, representing almost $40 billion, by the end of the third day on May 25.

Borouge, which is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Austria’s chemical producer Borealis, produces plastics used in a wide range of products.

Representatives for Adnoc and BlackRock declined to comment to Bloomberg on the news.


Petrochemical prices to remain the same for the next two years: Tasnee CEO

Petrochemical prices to remain the same for the next two years: Tasnee CEO
Updated 27 min 51 sec ago

Petrochemical prices to remain the same for the next two years: Tasnee CEO

Petrochemical prices to remain the same for the next two years: Tasnee CEO
  • Prices for propane and butane in Saudi Arabia remained unchanged, as those in Japan rose significantly, where propane prices topped $800 per ton

RIYADH: Petrochemical prices are expected to remain the same through 2022, and likely to continue until 2023, CEO of National Industrialization Co., also known as Tasnee, Mutlaq Al-Morished, said.

Al-Morished told Argaam that petrochemical prices are “very good” for all producers at present, while indicating a marginal decline in some prices.

The price of basic materials such as iron, copper, lead, and aluminum is also high, he added.

The GCC region terminal prices reached $8,000, up from $800-850 earlier, resulting in higher prices for end products.

Prices for propane and butane in Saudi Arabia remained unchanged, as those in Japan rose significantly, where propane prices topped $800 per ton — the highest level in 30 years.

Prices have fallen to $600 per ton today, but they are unattractive to investors building new industries, Al-Morished said.

Established in 1985, Tasnee is one of the largest petrochemical and industrial companies in the Kingdom. It also has interests in metals, industrial services, and environmental technologies.


Saudi recycling firm Tadweeer’s shares soars 30% on market debut

Saudi recycling firm Tadweeer’s shares soars 30% on market debut
Updated 28 min 46 sec ago

Saudi recycling firm Tadweeer’s shares soars 30% on market debut

Saudi recycling firm Tadweeer’s shares soars 30% on market debut

RIYADH: Shares in Saudi Arabia’s National Environmental Recycling Co. soared 30 percent after its debut on the parallel market Nomu on Thursday.

Shares surged in afternoon trading, reaching SR84.50 ($22.53), against an initial public offering price of SR65, as of 12:54 p.m. Saudi time.

Established in 2015, Tadweeer deals with the recycling of electrical and electronic waste in line with the Saudi Green Initiative.


Palm oil analyst Mistry urges Indonesia to resume exports immediately

Palm oil analyst Mistry urges Indonesia to resume exports immediately
Updated 46 min 46 sec ago

Palm oil analyst Mistry urges Indonesia to resume exports immediately

Palm oil analyst Mistry urges Indonesia to resume exports immediately
  • Farmers in Indonesia were already burdened with higher levies and taxes of $575 per ton compared to their Malaysian counterparts who pay $125 per ton, Mistry said

KUALA LUMPUR: Leading edible oil analyst Dorab Mistry on Thursday urged Indonesia to immediately resume exports of palm oil, warning that a halt in shipments pending details of a domestic sales rule could spell economic “doom” for farmers.

Mistry, director of Indian consumer goods company Godrej International, is a prominent figure in the palm oil industry and his market-moving outlooks are closely watched by traders.

In an open letter to the Indonesian government shared with some international media outlets, Mistry said the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter was heading to a “calamitous situation” as inventories had already reached historical highs surpassing seven million tons.

“If unrestricted exports do not start before the end of May we foresee a situation where all storage tanks will be full and the industry will grind to a halt,” he said, adding that Indonesian farmers would bear the brunt of this.

Indonesia reopened exports of crude palm oil and its derivatives from May 23 after a three-week ban on shipments in a bid to curtail runaway cooking oil prices.

But President Joko Widodo reinstated a policy of mandatory local sales at a certain price level, and exporters have held back on shipments as they await details on the latest rules.

Farmers in Indonesia were already burdened with higher levies and taxes of $575 per ton compared to their Malaysian counterparts who pay $125 per ton, Mistry said.

“But now they face the incredible situation of not being able to harvest their fruit and instead will be forced to watch it rot on the trees,” he said.

The losses are “inevitable” and would be seen in early June even if exports commence immediately, exacerbated by the start of a boom in production due to good rainfall, Mistry said.

“The export ban has also forced countries to look at their reliance on Indonesian palm and find ways of making soft oils available at a cheaper price,” he said, citing India’s decision to allow duty-free imports of crude soyoil and crude sunflower oil.

“The combination of historical record stocks, full storage tanks, boom cycle in production, poor demand, and restricted exports spells almost certain doom for the Indonesian farmer,” Mistry warned.

He said a “complete economic disaster” for farmers could only be avoided if the government adopted an immediate unrestricted export policy, which he described as a win-win solution for both farmers and buyers alike.

Indonesian government officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The administration of President Joko Widodo has been focused on trying to bring down the price of cooking oil derived from palm oil in the domestic market.