Green startup to raise funds via NFT to clear plastics off the oceans

‘Oceans and Us’ aims is to raise awareness and funds to build a boat that cleans the oceans. (AFP)
‘Oceans and Us’ aims is to raise awareness and funds to build a boat that cleans the oceans. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 29 May 2022

Green startup to raise funds via NFT to clear plastics off the oceans

‘Oceans and Us’ aims is to raise awareness and funds to build a boat that cleans the oceans. (AFP)
  • Sustainability is an ecosystem, and NFTs work as a gateway, says founder of Oceans and Us

DUBAI: For many companies, sustainability is a corporate social responsibility initiative on the fringes; for Oceans and Us, a Dubai-based startup initiated by serial entrepreneur Joel Michael, it is the core area of focus.

But the future health of our planet is not the only forward-thinking aspect of this green startup. Oceans and Us is planning to raise funds by selling 10,000 generative non-fungible tokens and launching a new cryptocurrency.
NFT is a digital asset representing internet collectibles like art, music and games and has an authentic certificate created by blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrency.
Partnering with NFT artist Vesa Kivinen, also popularly known as VESA in crypto art circles, Oceans and Us plans to raise $1.2 million in funding to clean up oceans worldwide.

FASTFACT

Partnering with NFT artist Vesa Kivinen, also popularly known as VESA in crypto art circles, Oceans and Us plans to raise $1.2 million in funding to clean up oceans worldwide.

VESA is an established digital artist who has built up a track record and a following over the last decade.
“He is a very passionate artist in the climate change space and does a lot of work with marine corals, and the idea for this (partnership) is to essentially bring together the community and bring art as a means of communication,” explained Joel Michael, the founder of Oceans and Us, in an exclusive interview with Arab News.




Joel Michael, founder of Oceans and Us

“Buying an NFT enables people to invest and participate in a hands-on way.”

Sustainability
The idea is to allow those who purchase an NFT to enjoy the added benefits. Oceans and Us plans to partner with 100 brands across the UAE and the Middle East with a sustainable product or solution. Whoever buys or owns an NFT would have discounts or benefits with these companies.
“Sustainability is an ecosystem, and NFTs work as a gateway,” said Michael. “The idea is for all of this to sit on the blockchain that is transparent so every single dollar invested can be seen clearly where it goes.”
Oceans and Us has progressed in talks with the team behind the Qatar World Cup. It is also in advanced talks on a partnership with top UAE-based retailer Landmark Group, particularly by aligning with a sustainable clothing effort on behalf of its leading fashion brand, Splash.
The startup is also associating with coffee brands that already have an eye toward green practices, from coffee cups to procurement of beans to offer NFT owners discounts. He is also speaking to solar home solutions companies and sustainable fashion brands.
In addition, the green startup plans to launch its token as a way to raise funds by crowdsourcing. The aim is to raise awareness and funds to build a boat that cleans the oceans.
The startup is working closely with Marakeb Technologies to design an autonomous, self-driven boat powered by AI that will clear plastic from rivers and oceans.
Marakeb Technologies is incorporated in Sharjah and is 30 percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government. The boat’s inaugural journey is scheduled in July 2022.
“Marakeb has a skillset to produce boats for the government that can put out fires in UAE waters if that happens. We are working with them to design a fully autonomous boat that can do what it needs with no human on it, so no lives are risked on a boat,” said Michael.
“We want to encourage people to help us come up with different solutions including a way we can run the entire operation using wind, solar or kinetic energy. The biggest thing we want to solve is transporting plastic we collect back to land so it can be repurposed.”

Fresh off the boat
The next goal of this initiative is to raise funds for a cash prize as part of the Global Innovation Challenge, an eight-month program that includes events, workshops, and collaborations with incubators and universities to submit designs for a boat.
The competition begins in August 2022, and winners will be announced after 60 days. The aim is to officially launch the boat in time for COP 28 in 2023 in Dubai.
“The Middle East is driving so much in the climate change space, and we are seeing a positive impact in the strongest ways,” said Michael, who has worked in the sustainability space for over a decade. “In the past decade, Europe was the leader, but now everything is aligned with the Middle East.”
Sustainability is high on the agenda across the Gulf region. Late last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative to raise $10.4 billion for an investment fund and clean energy projects to reduce carbon emissions.
Michael added the positive impact of COP 27 hosted in Egypt, followed by COP 28 planned soon in Dubai.
“Because the government supports these initiatives, we are seeing things come together in private markets,” he said. “We have seen tremendous support from the UAE and think it’s the epicenter of sustainability in the region.”
Michael is the regional head of The Green Tech Alliance, a group of 350 CEOs committed to greener practices. The entrepreneur has spent the last 10 years working in the startup and venture capital space, focusing on sustainability.
“No one company can make a change. We are not looking to compete with ocean cleanup companies or be a market leader. Our messaging from innovation challenge to the token is to help organize investments and donations into the right places. We look at ourselves as nothing more than a network orchestrator,” he said.
With a team of 10 working remotely worldwide, Oceans and Us is hard at work to design the autonomous boat in time for its maiden voyage this summer.


Saudi authorities taking steps to prevent artificial price hike, says minister

Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi authorities taking steps to prevent artificial price hike, says minister

Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
  • After 13 months — specifically March 2021 — there were growing signs of economic recovery, Al-Qasabi said, but warning that there was an increase in demand versus supply

JEDDAH: Major events including the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have caused price hikes around the world, Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi said in a periodic government communication conference on Tuesday.

The press conference discussed four key areas: Global events that led to price increases, the Saudi leadership’s guidance to address the effects of the hikes, repercussions of global events on prices, as well as a question and answer segment.

“Let us rewind two years and a half back to February 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was an economic, social and mental tsunami. It was the biggest economic crisis in the world,” Al-Qasabi said.

“This pandemic affected the whole world all at once, and suddenly without any warning. We are still suffering from its effects,” he added.

“We stayed in the pandemic for 13 months, and after that, it was the beginning of recovery.”

After 13 months — specifically March 2021 — there were growing signs of economic recovery, Al-Qasabi said, but warning that there was an increase in demand versus supply.

“The demand was more than the supply, and this causes an imbalance in the market, when the demand exceeds the supply. Of course, the result will be that prices have risen,” he added.

Al-Qasabi pointed to the Suez Canal obstruction in March 2021 as another event that added to global economic woes.

“We saw the blockage of the navigational movement and the cessation of the navigational movement in the Suez Canal, then after three months — in July 2021 — the second variant of the virus appeared and imposed a curfew again, which caused the closure of some ports and some cities,” he said.

In February 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict began. The minister said that the war affected transportation, too.

“We had a crisis between Russia and Ukraine, and we still do not know how long this crisis will last. These events combined, overlapped and completed, leading to a crisis in transportation and supply chains,” he said.

The transportation and supply chain crisis includes the disruption of some transportation ports, such as the main port of Shanghai, a sixfold increase in the cost of transportation, as well as surging freight insurance rates.

Al-Qasabi hailed King Salman’s royal order on Monday that approved the allocation of SR20 billion ($5.32 billion) to help citizens mitigate the impacts of rising global prices.

Half of the allocated money will go to social insurance beneficiaries and the Citizen Account Program.


NRG Matters: QatarEnergy signs deal with Shell for $30bn North Field East project; Germany’s renewable energy consumption up

NRG Matters: QatarEnergy signs deal with Shell for $30bn North Field East project; Germany’s renewable energy consumption up
Updated 05 July 2022

NRG Matters: QatarEnergy signs deal with Shell for $30bn North Field East project; Germany’s renewable energy consumption up

NRG Matters: QatarEnergy signs deal with Shell for $30bn North Field East project; Germany’s renewable energy consumption up

RIYADH: On a macro level, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has discussed measures for monitoring petroleum product trading in the emirate. Zooming in, QatarEnergy has signed a deal with Shell for the Gulf state’s $30 billion North Field East expansion. 

Looking at the bigger picture

  •  Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has discussed measures for monitoring petroleum product trading in the emirate, according to WAM.
  • Renewable energy accounted for 49 percent of the total German power consumption in the first half of 2022, up 6 percent from a year earlier, Reuters reported. 

Industry groups have attributed this increase to favorable weather conditions. 

Through a micro lens:

  • QatarEnergy has signed a deal with Shell for the Gulf state’s North Field East expansion, the first phase of the world's largest liquefied natural gas project, according to Reuters.

This happens as the country partners with international companies in the first and largest phase of the nearly $30 billion expansion that will boost Qatar’s position as the world’s top LNG exporter.

  • Siemens Gamesa and Germany’s renewables developer wpd have signed a supply agreement for  a 927-megawatt Gennaker offshore wind power plant, according to Trade Arabia.

Located 15 kilometers off the German coast, the project will feature 103 Siemens Gamesa Direct Drive offshore wind turbines each with a 167-meter rotor.


Gas consumption set to contract due to Russia: IEA

Gas consumption set to contract due to Russia: IEA
Updated 05 July 2022

Gas consumption set to contract due to Russia: IEA

Gas consumption set to contract due to Russia: IEA

Gas consumption will contract slightly this year due to high prices and Russian cuts to Europe, with only slow growth over coming years as consumers switch to alternatives, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

The IEA chopped its forecast for global gas demand by more than half in its latest quarterly report on gas markets.

It now expects growth of just 3.4 percent by 2025, an increase of 140 billion cubic meters from 2021 levels, which is less than the 175 bcm jump in demand registered in 2021 alone.

“The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global gas prices and supply tensions, as well as its repercussions on the longer-term economic outlook, are reshaping the outlook for natural gas,” said the IEA.

HIGHLIGHTS

The IEA chopped its forecast for global gas demand by more than half in its latest quarterly report on gas markets.

It now expects growth of just 3.4 percent by 2025, an increase of 140 billion cubic meters from 2021 levels, which is less than the 175 bcm jump in demand registered in 2021 alone.

“Today’s record prices and supply disruptions are damaging the reputation of natural gas as a reliable and affordable energy source, casting uncertainty on its prospects, particularly in developing countries where it had been expected to play a growing role in meeting rising energy demand and energy transition goals,” it added.

While Russia has cut supplies to Europe and European nations have pledged to wean themselves off Russian gas, the impact quickly rippled throughout the world.

European nations are trying to make up the shortfall by importing more liquefied natural gas shipped by tanker, which the IEA said is creating supply tensions and leading to demand destruction in other markets.

It warned that the scramble for LNG risked not only causing economic harm to other more price sensitive importers, but pushing up prices and thus contributing to additional revenues for Russia.

“In this context, an accelerated phase-out of Russian gas should primarily focus on reducing gas demand and scaling up domestically produced low-carbon gase” such as biogas, biomethane, and green hydrogen, said the IEA.

The IEA, which advises energy importing nations on policy, said in its new forecast for lower gas demand growth that only a fifth of the reduction came from expected efficiency gains and substituting renewables for gas.

“Our forecast’s lower gas demand growth compared to last year does not guarantee an accelerated transition to net-zero emissions, as the bulk of the revision comes from lower gross domestic product and fuel switching rather than by faster gas-to-electricity conversion and efficiency gains,” said the report.

The IEA said additional green energy transition measures would, in additional to their long-term impact in reducing emissions, ease pressure on gas prices globally by reducing supply tensions while also delivering short-term improvements in air quality by quickening the move away from coal.

“The most sustainable response to today’s global energy crisis is stronger efforts and policies to use energy more efficiently and to accelerate clean energy transitions,” Keisuke Sadamori, IEA director for energy markets and security, said in a statement.


Oil slumps $10 per barrel as recession fears darken demand outlook

Oil slumps $10 per barrel as recession fears darken demand outlook
Updated 05 July 2022

Oil slumps $10 per barrel as recession fears darken demand outlook

Oil slumps $10 per barrel as recession fears darken demand outlook

NEW YORK: Oil plummeted by about $10 a barrel on Tuesday on concerns of a looming global recession curtailing demand, even with expected supply disruptions as oil and gas workers in Norway began to strike.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down $10.77, or 9.5 percent, at $102.73 a barrel by 11:43 a.m. EDT (1543 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $9.30, or 8.6 percent, to $99.13 a barrel from Friday’s close. There was no WTI settlement on Monday because of a US holiday.

“The market is getting tight, but still we're getting creamed and the only way you can explain that away is fear of recession in every risk asset,” said Robert Yawger, director, energy futures at Mizuho, New York. “You’re feeling the pressure.”

Oil futures sank along with equities, which often serve as demand indicator for crude, as investors fretted about the possibility of an economic downturn as central banks across the world take aggressive actions to limit inflation.

Supply concerns still linger, initially lifting WTI and Brent earlier in the session, due to potential output disruption in Norway, where offshore workers began a strike.

The strike is expected to reduce oil and gas output by 89,000 barrels per day, of which gas output makes up 27,500 bpd, Norwegian producer Equinor has said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, raised August crude oil prices for Asian buyers to near record levels amid tight supply and robust demand.

Meanwhile, Russia’s former President Dmitry Medvedev said a reported proposal from Japan to cap the price of Russian oil at about half its current level would mean less oil on the market and could push prices above $300-$400 a barrel.

G7 leaders agreed last week to explore the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps on Russian fossil fuels, including oil, in an attempt to limit resources to finance Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.


Oil sector under siege due to underinvestment, says OPEC secretary-general

Oil sector under siege due to underinvestment, says OPEC secretary-general
Updated 06 July 2022

Oil sector under siege due to underinvestment, says OPEC secretary-general

Oil sector under siege due to underinvestment, says OPEC secretary-general

ABUJA: The oil and gas industry is facing huge challenges on multiple fronts and is “under siege” due to years of underinvestment globally that has led to market tightness, Mohammad Barkindo, the OPEC secretary-general,  said on Tuesday.

“Our industry is now facing huge challenges along multiple fronts,” he told delegates at an energy conference in Nigeria’s capital.

“And these threaten our investment potential now and in the long term, to put it bluntly, my dear friends, the oil and gas industry is under siege,” he said, citing geopolitical developments in Europe.

The fallout from the war in Ukraine has left many countries globally vulnerable to soaring energy prices. 

He said the supply shortage could be eased if extra supplies from Iran and Venezuela were allowed to flow.

Years of sanctions have limited supplies from Iran and Venezuela.

In addition, the West has imposed sanctions on Russia, a member of OPEC+ that groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, tightening oil markets further.

“We could, however, unlock resources and strengthen capacity if the oil produced by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Venezuela were allowed to return to the market,” Barkindo said.

Strain on the industry has been increased by some countries' efforts to divest from hydrocarbons, he said.

While they are seeking to limit global warming, he said oil demand was growing even as investment in capacity falls and prices surge.

Nigeria’s Oil Minister Timipre Sylva said Africa’s top oil producer would not abandon fossil fuels.

“For us in Nigeria, fossil fuel will always have a share in our energy mix, for the foreseeable future. We will not at this time abandon fossil fuels. We have adopted ... gas as a transition fuel,” he said.