Electromin eyes more charging stations Kingdomwide as CEO wants to end Saudis’ reluctance to EVs

Exclusive Electromin eyes more charging stations Kingdomwide as CEO wants to end Saudis’ reluctance to EVs
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Updated 07 June 2022

Electromin eyes more charging stations Kingdomwide as CEO wants to end Saudis’ reluctance to EVs

Electromin eyes more charging stations Kingdomwide as CEO wants to end Saudis’ reluctance to EVs
  • While it is a bold move, it is very timely, says Petromin’s group CEO Kalyana Sivagnanam
  • Range anxiety is one of the big obstacles to the adoption of EVs ... So we’re also launching a mobile charger. So if you’re stuck on the road, give us a call

RIYADH: Petromin’s new venture Electromin aims to kick-start confidence in customers’ minds to buy electric vehicles, even as the company recently opened 100 EV charging stations in Saudi Arabia, according to its group CEO.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Kalyana Sivagnanam, group CEO of Petromin, called it a bold move since customers in the Kingdom are still reluctant to buy EVs.

“While it is a bold move, I think it is very timely. We also have plans to expand this further beyond 100 stations and, in due course, we will make that announcement as well,” Sivagnanam told Arab News.




Petromin Group CEO (AN: Mohammed Albiejan)

Mobile charging solution

During the interview, Sivagnanam revealed that the most critical concern of people who wish to buy EVs is charging their vehicles if they run out of storage and get stuck on the road.

Addressing this concern, the company is providing a mobile charging service for EV users if they get stuck on the road.

SPEEDREAD

• Kalyana Sivagnanam predicted that the Kingdom would eventually need more charging stations as people will soon embrace EVs.

• By installing 100 EV charging stations, the company aims to possess a national network of electric vehicle chargers.

• The company also plans to introduce direct current fast chargers as the market grows and more customers start buying EVs in the Kingdom.

“Range anxiety is one of the big obstacles to the adoption of EVs. What if I run out of charge and get stuck on the road? So we’re also launching a mobile charger. So if you’re stuck on the road, give us a call. We will bring a mobile charger to assist you on the spot,” added Sivagnanam.

Strategic locations for charging

Sivagnanam predicted that the Kingdom would eventually need more charging stations as people will soon embrace EVs.

By installing 100 EV charging stations, the company aims to possess a national network of electric vehicle chargers.




Kalyana Sivagnanam, group CEO of Petromin talking to Arab News

“These 100 locations have been strategically mapped out. So, of course, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam would have a majority of these. But we are also ensuring that there’s national coverage,” he further added.

The road ahead

Sivagnanam further noted that the company considers Electromin charging stations a long-term investment in the Kingdom, as he strongly believes in the future of EVs.

“We see this as a strategic investment, something that is very long term and important to us as a company. We’ve always been leaders. We’ve always been pioneers. So it is only natural that we go from Petromin to Electromin,” he said.

Advent of DC chargers

The company also plans to introduce direct current fast chargers as the market grows and more customers start buying EVs in the Kingdom.

“We have started with AC chargers. As the market evolves and if there is a demand for DC fast chargers, Electromin will install them. As the demand grows and we see newer vehicles come into the market, we will upgrade our chargers,” added Sivagnanam.

Vision 2030 influence

Sivagnanam also made it clear that the adoption of electric vehicles in the country will be driven by government policy. He stated that the adoption of EVs in the Kingdom would be much higher than in other countries in the coming years.

“Vision 2030 talks about sustainability. Riyadh has said that they will go for a 30 percent sale of electric vehicles by 2030. We are guided by these numbers. We think there is a strong push for a sustainable ecosystem,” he further added.

Lubricant market will continue to grow

The company also expects the lubricant industry to grow during this EV transformation period.

“Petromin is a lubricant company. We are now evolving into a future industry. We also expect the lubricant market to continue to grow. The lubricant market is not just about automotive; lubricants are also industrial and commercial,” he said.

Sivagnanam added that Petromin wants to strengthen its existing portfolio, and the company is also making sure that it is well-positioned for the future.

Talking about sustainability, he said, “Petromin will continue reducing carbon footprint. On the other hand, Electromin, as a company focused purely on EVs, will continue toward a zero-emission sustainable world.”

Toward newer horizons

Sivagnanam also added that Petromin is planning to expand into different segments and geographies. Calling India a big market, he revealed that the company is looking at opportunities in the region besides assessing prospects in Africa and other Arab markets.

“As a Saudi company, we also have a big presence outside Saudi Arabia. Petromin exports lubricants to over 40 countries. We have big ambitions to grow into many other markets. So the core business will continue to expand. We have new markets, we have growth markets, and we have new segments. Lubricants are being used in a variety of industries, and that business will continue to grow,” added Sivagnanam.

 


Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022
  • The two countries will bolster ties further with the signing of 12 new deals this week

RIYADH: The mutual trade between Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Uzbekistan reached $95 million in the first half of 2022, a substantial increase considering that bilateral trade barely exceeded $17 million last year.

According to a joint news statement, the value is expected to grow rapidly by the end of 2022. The numbers assume significance in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In fact, the number of Uzbek companies running on Saudi funds increased from about nine to 38 in the last five years. Of the 38, 19 are sole proprietors, and the rest are joint ventures.

The two nations will bolster the ties further by signing 12 new agreements on Wednesday and Thursday when Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visits the Kingdom.

According to an Uzbek state agency, high-level talks will take place in Jeddah, where the two nations will discuss opportunities to enhance multilateral cooperation further.

The discussion will focus on the green economy, technology and digitalization, innovations, small business and entrepreneurship. 

Following the meeting, new agreements are expected to be signed in the energy, telecommunications, agriculture, chemical and petrochemical industries, besides encouraging ties in culture, sports and education.

The Kingdom has become one of the largest foreign investors in energy infrastructure and one of Uzbekistan’s most significant developers of green energy projects.

ACWA Power’s Uzbek interests

Recently, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan and Saudi energy company ACWA Power signed several investment agreements for about $3 billion.

ACWA Power will develop and operate a wind energy project with a production capacity of 1,500 MW in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan.

When commissioned, the plant will become the largest of its kind in Central Asia and one of the largest wind power plants in the world. 

FASTFACTS

• The number of Uzbek companies running on Saudi funds increased from about nine to 38 in the last five years.

• Recently, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan and Saudi energy company ACWA Power signed several investment agreements for about $3 billion.

• The Saudi Fund for Development has contributed to the implementation of many projects in Uzbekistan, including funding the Samarkand-Gozar Road project, with a total value of $30 million.

ACWA Power also signed an agreement to establish the 100MW Nokus wind farm project, the first renewable energy project to be implemented in partnership with Uzbekistan’s public and private sectors.

The power generating company also won a $108 million wind contract after proposing a tariff of 2.56 cents per kilowatt-hour, the lowest in Uzbekistan.

Additionally, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with ACWA Power to establish a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Shirin, located in Syrdarya, Uzbekistan. The deal amounts to $1.2 billion.

According to the statement, these projects will contribute to achieving Uzbekistan’s national goal of raising the total renewable energy generation capacity to 30 percent by 2030.

Saudi Fund for Development

Moreover, the Saudi Fund for Development has contributed to the implementation of many projects in Uzbekistan, including funding the Samarkand-Gozar Road project, with a total value of $30 million.

The fund also contributed to 20 projects in the republic, including building pumping stations and other projects involving sewage, chemicals, mining, building materials, water and agriculture.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, the Saudi and Uzbek delegations have discussed issues of cooperation in agriculture, including the prospects for enhancing mutual trade in agricultural products.

Both parties will likely sign memorandums of cooperation in agriculture, veterinary medicine and livestock development at the meeting.

They also agreed to deepen cooperation in the agricultural sector to enhance trade in farming, livestock and other products between the countries.

After signing the memoranda, action plans will be prepared, including specific measures and areas for developing cooperation and joint projects.

The Saudi side invited the Uzbekistan delegation to attend its most prominent exhibition of the agro-industrial complex, which will be held at the end of October in Riyadh.


American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal
Updated 16 August 2022

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

CHICAGO: American Airlines Group Inc. on Tuesday agreed to buy up to 20 jets from aircraft maker Boom Supersonic, becoming the second major US airline to bet on ultra-fast passenger travel in the last two years.

The deal brings Boom’s order book to 130 airplanes, including options, valued at about $26 billion, Boom Chief Executive Blake Scholl said in an interview.

The return of interest in supersonic jets comes nearly two decades after Concorde, flown by Air France and British Airways, was retired following a deadly crash and high costs of fuel and maintenance.

Last year, United Airlines Holdings Inc agreed to buy 15 Boom Overture aircraft provided they meet certain safety, operating and sustainability requirements. A similar condition was part of the American Airlines agreement as well.

American also has an option to purchase 40 more of the jets, each of which can carry 65 to 80 passengers, the companies said.

The four-engine Overture jet can fly from Miami to London in just under five hours, cutting the nearly nine-hour flight time between the cities by about half.

American Airlines spokesperson Matt Miller said it was too early to discuss ticket prices, given the aircraft isn't expected to carry its first passengers until 2029.

Supersonic jets have come under criticism from environmentalists for burning more fuel per passenger than comparable subsonic planes.

The Overture jet, being designed to run fully on sustainable aviation fuel or a blend, will be rolled out of Boom’s Greensboro, North Carolina factory in 2025, followed by test flights in 2026.

Third Bridge senior analyst Christopher Raite sounded a word of caution on Boom’s delivery target, saying the delay in conducting test flights for Boom’s other jet, the XB-1, signaled that delivery of the Overture will be delayed.


87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022
Updated 16 August 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

RIYADH: The number of families benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s Sakani housing options and financing solutions has reached 87,467 since the beginning of the year until the end of July. 

Some 104,492 families also received possession of their first homes during that period, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The program seeks to raise the proportion of housing ownership for Saudi families to 70 percent by 2030.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 to facilitate homeownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals, and financing their purchase.

Earlier this year, Sakani program announced that it aims to enable 180,000 new families to benefit from the program’s housing options and solutions during 2022. 


Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns
Updated 16 August 2022

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

NEW YORK: Oil prices fell over 1 percent on Tuesday in volatile trading as economic data spurred concerns about a potential global recession, while the market awaited clarity on talks to revive a deal that could allow more Iranian oil exports.

Brent crude futures fell $1.41, or 1.5 percent, to $93.69 a barrel, after hitting a session high of $95.95. West Texas Intermediate crude decreased $1.33, or 1.5 percent, to $88.08 a barrel, after rising to $90.65.

The contracts fell about 3 percent in their previous sessions.

The EU is assessing Iran’s response to what the bloc has called its “final” proposal to save a 2015 nuclear deal, and consulting with the US, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Iran responded to the proposal late on Monday but neither Tehran nor the EU provided any details on the content of the reply.

“It is still unclear what Iran has told the EU last night, so some tricky items might impact the outcome of the nuclear deal,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Weak economic indicators weighed on prices.

US homebuilding fell to the lowest level in nearly 1-1/2 years in July, weighed down by higher mortgage rates and prices for construction materials, suggesting the housing market could contract further in the third quarter.

“Oil traders reacted because of concerns about an economic slowdown and housing uses energy,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group. “That caught us by surprise.”

China’s central bank cut lending rates to try to revive demand as the nation’s economy slowed unexpectedly in July after Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and a property crisis slowed factory and retail activity.

State media quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying that China will reasonably step up macro policy support for the economy.

Barclays lowered its Brent price forecasts by $8 per barrel for this year and next, as it expects a large surplus of crude oil over the near-term due to “resilient” Russian supplies.


Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday authorized the minister of transport and logistic services to discuss with Bahrain two draft agreements to boost cooperation in the fields of road safety and maintenance. 

During the meeting, the council of ministers also authorized the chairman of Education and Training Evaluation Commission to discuss with the UAE a draft initial agreement to cooperate in the development of assessment, measurement and accreditation tools.

The ministers also approved two agreements in the fields of employment and domestic workers with Burundi, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The Cabinet has also authorized the health minister to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding with the Uzbek side for cooperation in the field. 

It also approved the rules governing the competency and contractor program.