UAE fiscal standing gets a boost on higher oil prices

The UAE government’s oil receipts have gone from 480 billion dirhams in late 2021 to 700 billion dirhams this year.
The UAE government’s oil receipts have gone from 480 billion dirhams in late 2021 to 700 billion dirhams this year.
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Updated 27 April 2022

UAE fiscal standing gets a boost on higher oil prices

UAE fiscal standing gets a boost on higher oil prices

RIYADH: Higher oil prices have dramatically improved the economic outlook of the Gulf countries, with the UAE’s 2022 forecast shifting from a 0.2 percent deficit to an 8.1 percent surplus, according to an IMF report.

This will see public debt slashed from 38.3 percent of GDP to just 31.7 percent. The current account balance, earlier forecast at a surplus of 9.4 percent of GDP, is now expected to be closer to 18.5 percent.

The UAE government’s oil receipts have gone from 480 billion dirhams ($131 billion) in late 2021 to 700 billion dirhams this year on account of the energy market disruption following the Ukraine-Russia war.

The UAE’s projected nominal GDP including energy price inflation increased by 17 percent, going from $428 billion to $501 billion, and its projected GDP growth rose from 3 percent to 4.2 percent this year.

Furthermore, non-oil business conditions improved as the UAE’s March Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by S&P–IHS Markit, held steady at 54.8 indicating expansion.

Still the UAE faces hikes in purchase prices, as cost pressures hit 40-month highs as a result of the war driven supply troubles.

The IMF projections this month are the highest in a decade, indicating further macroeconomic development and the capacity to regulate war led difficulties.

“This helps the country have a little bit of a war chest in case the Russia-Ukraine crisis begins to hit home a little harder than we expect,” said Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics.


Oil Updates — Crude down; Exxon halts activity at Texas oilfield; Argentina’s oil workers end strike

Oil Updates — Crude down; Exxon halts activity at Texas oilfield; Argentina’s oil workers end strike
Updated 15 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude down; Exxon halts activity at Texas oilfield; Argentina’s oil workers end strike

Oil Updates — Crude down; Exxon halts activity at Texas oilfield; Argentina’s oil workers end strike

RIYADH: Oil prices plunged about 5 percent to an eight-month low on Friday as the US dollar hit its strongest level in more than two decades and on fears rising interest rates will tip major economies into recession, cutting demand for oil.

Brent futures fell $4.31, or 4.8 percent, to settle at $86.15 a barrel, down about 6 percent for the week. US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $4.75, or 5.7 percent, to settle at $78.74, down about 7 percent for the week.

It was the fourth straight week of declines for both benchmarks, the first time this has happened since December. Both were in technically oversold territory, with WTI on track for its lowest settlement since Jan. 10 and Brent for its lowest since Jan. 14.

Exxon halts activity at Texas oilfield site following worker fatality

Exxon Mobil temporarily halted maintenance at an East Texas oil drilling facility after a fatality this week, which was at least the second death this year of a contractor at one of its Texas production sites.

The incident occurred on Tuesday near Hawkins, about 110 miles east of Dallas. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office said.

The name of the worker, an employee of Axis Energy Services, was not immediately available. The death was ruled accidental, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

Argentina’s oil workers end strike after inking safety deal

Unions representing thousands of striking Argentine oil workers called off a strike on Friday afternoon that they began the day before after a meeting with business leaders ended in a deal on greater safety measures and training for employees.

The workers launched the strike on Thursday after a fire in a storage tank caused an explosion at the New American Oil refinery in the town of Plaza Huincul in western Neuquen province.

The blast left three dead and one injured.

Union leaders, representatives of oil companies, and local government officials signed a deal designed to improve “training programs and prepare active personnel and future workers on issues of on-the-job safety.”

The deal also requires spending to ensure compliance with regulations, according to a copy of the deal released by one of the unions.

Swiss to release petrol, diesel, heating oil stocks from Oct. 3

The Swiss government will release petrol, diesel, heating oil and kerosene from its strategic reserves from Oct. 3 to ensure the supply of oil products to the domestic economy, it said on Friday.

It cited limited freight capacities on the Rhine river and logistical problems with foreign rail transport for a lack of conventional supply.

The government has already effectively released fuel reserves twice this year by allowing companies required to contribute to them to underfill by almost 20 percent.

Strategic reserves, or compulsory stocks, for petrol, diesel, and heating oil cover around four and half months of normal consumption. In the case of kerosene, reserves suffice for around three months, the government said in a statement.

The ordinance releasing stocks will remain in force “for as long as the situation absolutely requires,” it said.

Compulsory stocks of petroleum products were last released in 2005, 2010 and 2019.

(With input from Reuters) 

 


Iraq, Qatar discuss joint cooperation in civil aviation

Iraq, Qatar discuss joint cooperation in civil aviation
Updated 3 min 5 sec ago

Iraq, Qatar discuss joint cooperation in civil aviation

Iraq, Qatar discuss joint cooperation in civil aviation

The head of Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority, Nael Saad Abdul Hadi discussed on Saturday, with the Minister of Transport and Qatar Aviation Authority the prospects for joint cooperation in civil aviation. 
A statement by the Civil Aviation Authority said the cooperation would “provide mutual support in all fields, especially technical, air transport, air safety and aviation security, as well as scholarships and training for the Civil Aviation Authority.”
The discussion took place on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization lCAO held in Montreal.


Saudi Arabia focuses on AI-driven economy, considers data the new oil: SDAIA

Saudi Arabia focuses on AI-driven economy, considers data the new oil: SDAIA
Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi Arabia focuses on AI-driven economy, considers data the new oil: SDAIA

Saudi Arabia focuses on AI-driven economy, considers data the new oil: SDAIA
  • The technology will contribute billions to the Saudi national gross domestic product, says SDAIA's Mishari Al-Mishari

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority is aiming to create a leading data and AI-driven economy and make Saudi Arabia one of the top countries in the technology, the agency’s deputy director said. 

Mishari Al-Mishari, the deputy director of SDAIA, told Arab News on the sidelines of the Global AI Summit in Riyadh that SDAIA was created to be the custodian of the national agenda on data and AI.

“SDAIA was created to have an entity that will be the custodian of the national agenda of data and artificial intelligence to create a leading data and AI-driven economy,” he said. 

The conference, which SDAIA organized, hosted up to 30,000 hybrids and in-person attendees and had representatives from more than 90 countries, he said. 

“In this summit, we didn’t restrict it to the dialogues and the discussion; we emphasized the experience as well,” he added. 

SPEEDREAD

The conference, which SDAIA organized, hosted up to 30,000 hybrids and in-person attendees and had representatives from more than 90 countries, Mishari Al-Mishari, deputy director of SDAIA, said.

Over 40 use cases designed by leading companies and institutes in AI were presented at the conference, allowing attendees to interact with, live, and experience AI and understand how it could improve their lives, Al-Mishari said. 

During the event, SDAIA President Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi announced that the Kingdom is joining the World Bank’s Digital Development Partnership.

“We share a common vision with the DDP. The partnership will bring together the public and the private sector and accelerate safe and inclusive digital transformation in developing countries,” said Al-Ghamdi. 

He added: “I am confident we will make a real difference. I am looking forward to a fruitful collaboration.” 

Al-Mishari said the initiative would help underdeveloped economies adopt AI for the benefit of their citizens.

The technology, according to Al-Mishari, will contribute billions to the national gross domestic product. In addition, it could boost the economy with jobs, investments and opportunities for the Kingdom. 

“Data is the new oil, and that’s our perception and belief of how much we could make out of data,” Al-Mishari said. 

Public sector cloud

“SDAIA operates one of the biggest governmental clouds in the region, hosting approximately 140 governmental entities and providing 35 different cloud services,” Nawaf Al-Sahan, head of cloud computing at the National Information Center, told Arab News. 

NIC has also been harnessing its governmental cloud DEEM, founded in late 2018, as a proof of concept and has grown rapidly since then. 

At this point, NIC’s mandate is only to serve public sector undertakings, so he added that the DEEM exclusively serves public projects. 

Their internal team, entirely made up of Saudi female and male engineers, developed the cloud. 

“I am glad our team is all Saudis, young engineers, males and females. So that cloud is fully built by our Saudi talent,” Al-Sahan said. 

When it comes to cloud security, NIC implements strict measures. Two teams are responsible for securing the cloud, a larger team entrusted with governance, risk, and compliance does the monitoring for them, and an internal team performs penetration testing and their daily security operations, he said. 

Al-Sahan said that NIC is currently finished with its three-year strategy for 2025. 

As part of that strategy or roadmap, external vendors and partners participate in the government cloud, he said.

“So, we’ll open up a little bit for trusted partners to be part of the government cloud and provide unique services to the government entities,” he concluded. 

A 1-million-riyal idea 

SDAIA, in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Housing and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, announced “Smartathon — The Smart Cities Challenge” with prizes totaling SR1,000,000, according to Sattam Alsubaiee, assistant director for insights at NIC. 

The competition is open for anyone globally, he said. SDAIA wants participants to develop AI models that detect visual pollution automatically. 

“We give them the data, and everyone is invited to participate, take that data and build AI models that can detect the visual pollution,” Alsubaiee told Arab News. 

Because humans have limited resources, SDAIA and its partners do not want to deploy a vast workforce to detect that visual pollution with their eyes.

“You cannot deploy thousands of inspectors trying to find all the visual pollution in all the cities. So, we want the machine to help us automate in solving that problem,” he added. 

Alsubaiee cited graffiti on walls, poor-looking billboard signs and potholes as examples of visual pollutants.

SDAIA is publishing data they already have and collected to invite everyone to contribute and help them solve those problems, he said. 

“We want to make Saudi Arabia one of the smartest countries in the world, not just at the city level, but at the country level,” he concluded.


Saudi Arabia’s refinery output down for third month in a row: JODI

Saudi Arabia’s refinery output down for third month in a row: JODI
Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s refinery output down for third month in a row: JODI

Saudi Arabia’s refinery output down for third month in a row: JODI
  • Kingdom’s refinery output grew 8.3 percent from 2.56 million bpd, and exports rose 8.0 percent from 1.32 million bpd, compared to July 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s refinery output has inched lower for the third month in a row, while oil product exports met the same fate, the Joint Organizations Data Initiative reported.

The Kingdom's refinery output decreased to 2.76 million barrels per day in July, from 2.85 million bpd in June, while oil product exports decreased from 1.60 million bpd in June to 1.43 million bpd in July, JODI revealed.

While production saw a 3.1 percent month-on-month decline from June to July, total oil exports experienced a bigger 10.6 percent decrease over the same period, distorted from their growth in the past two months. 

Year-over-year, the Kingdom’s refinery output grew 8.3 percent from 2.56 million bpd, and exports rose 8.0 percent from 1.32 million bpd, compared to July 2021.

All components of refinery output decreased from June’s values, bar the production of motor and aviation oil where the 23 percent constituent remained almost unchanged at 628,000 bpd in July, from 626,000 bpd the previous month.

Gas or diesel oil — by far the highest contributor to refinery oil production at 43.4 percent —went down slightly by 1.8 percent, from 1.22 million bpd in June to 1.20 million barrels per day in July.  

Moreover, fuel oil showed its second consecutive monthly decline of 6.2 percent from 503,000 to 472,000 million bpd. Fuel oil is a prominent proportion of total oil products as it makes up 17 percent of total refinery oil production.

Smaller components of total oil products like kerosene, which includes jet fuel, recorded a 6.4 percent monthly decrease in July 2022.

Naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas fell 3.2 percent and 30.8 percent respectively over the same period.

Oil products falling into the classification ‘other’ almost doubled over the year from 121,000 bpd last July to 237,000 bpd this year, fueled by their 75.7 percent growth in June, where they reached 246,000 barrels of production per day.

However, like most oil products, they contracted 3.7 percent in the transition between June and July this year.

Exports of refinery oil

Refinery oil exports were pushed down this month by reductions in all components apart from fuel oil.

Motor and aviation oil exports plummeted 23.2 percent from 280,000 bpd in June to 215,000 bpd in July — falling for the third consecutive month in contrast to their fixed output in production.

Gas or diesel, oil which comprises 48.7 percent of refinery oil exports making it the highest exported product, went down 5.9 percent from 740,000 bpd to 696,000 bpd over the same period.

Although Kerosene and Naphtha make up smaller portions of total oil exports, their decreases also brought down oil exports.

Fuel oil, the second largest contributor alongside motor and aviation, went up 12.2 percent from 198,000 bdp to 222,000 bpd, showing a growth in exports for the first time in four months.

Closing stocks

The Kingdom’s closing stocks of all oil products decreased by less than one percent, due to declines in gas or diesel oil, motor and aviation oil, and kerosene. 

The total closing stock was equivalent to 92.13 million barrels by the end of July, down 700,000 from 92.83 million barrels in June. 


Google Cloud partners with Saudi Aramco to launch a new data center in the Kingdom: Top official

Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, Managing Director, Turkey, Middle East & Africa, Google Cloud. (Supplied)
Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, Managing Director, Turkey, Middle East & Africa, Google Cloud. (Supplied)
Updated 25 September 2022

Google Cloud partners with Saudi Aramco to launch a new data center in the Kingdom: Top official

Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, Managing Director, Turkey, Middle East & Africa, Google Cloud. (Supplied)
  • “The objective of this is really to train local talents, making sure that we bring them up to the standards of what Google Cloud can provide,” Al-Thehaiban said

RIYADH: Google Cloud has partnered with Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to distribute its cloud services in the Kingdom. The cloud platform will be launching its first data center in the region soon, said a senior company official.

According to Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, managing director of Turkey, Middle East & Africa, Google Cloud, the new cloud solution will allow organizations around the region to grow and scale their offerings while delivering digital products and services faster.

Al Thehaiban further said that the collaboration will expand cloud services demand in the Kingdom, which is forecast to reach a market opportunity of up to $10 billion by 2030, according to a statement issued by Aramco.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The cloud computing platform is currently setting up an office in the Kingdom, where it plans to increase the local content and transfer its know-how.

• It has also partnered with SDAIA to launch a new initiative called Elevate, which aims to empower women globally to pursue careers in AI and machine learning.

“Our objective is to launch a data center in Saudi that’s expected to be announced soon and to have some distribution for Aramco’s recently announced company called Context,” Al Thehaiban told Arab News on the sidelines of the Global AI Summit in Riyadh.

He added that the oil behemoth would be the reseller for Google Cloud solutions in the Kingdom.

The cloud computing platform is currently setting up an office in the Kingdom, where it plans to increase the local content and transfer its know-how.

It has also partnered with the state-run Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority to launch a new initiative called Elevate, which aims to empower women globally to pursue careers in AI and machine learning.

The initiative launched during the Global AI Summit held in Riyadh will train more than 25,000 women over the next five years.

The program offers a four-month curriculum, where participants can access free training sessions designed to train them with the skills and experience needed for roles like cloud architect, data engineer, machine learning engineer or cloud business specialist.

While the global AI industry has grown at a rapid pace, women remain underrepresented. According to a UNESCO study, women represent 12 percent of international AI researchers and 8 percent of professional software developers.

The study also revealed that only one fifth of employees in technical roles in major machine learning companies are women.

“The objective of this is really to train local talents, making sure that we bring them up to the standards of what Google Cloud can provide,” Al Thehaiban said.

Google Cloud has also widened its scope by addressing environmental, water, and agricultural challenges posed by climate change.

It collaborated with SDAIA, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and Climate Engine, to launch the Earth observation and science program.

“Climate change is all about data collection, we keep track of the nitty-gritty details of the climate application and then through certain algorism, we monitor the prediction and how it can be beneficial in issues related to sustainability,” he said.