COP27 calls for a secure political environment to bring world change, says top official

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Updated 06 November 2022

COP27 calls for a secure political environment to bring world change, says top official

COP27 calls for a secure political environment to bring world change, says top official

RIYADH: The process of COP is unique, as "it is a must to create a safe political space shielded from whatever else is going on out there to do our jobs and deliver a world change", UN Climate Change top official stated.

Speaking at COP27 held in Sharm El-Sheikh on Nov. 6, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said: “This is why I say today, a new era begins and we begin to do things differently.”

He also urged the idea of having women and girls “at the center of climate decision-making and action.”

Highlighting the geopolitical situation, the pandemic, the food and energy difficulties that have affected nations' finances and, most significantly, people's lives in his speech, Stiell said, “We have a duty to speed up our international efforts to put words into action.”

He said the key lines of action should focus on turning “the agreements into practical activities to show this transformative shift to implementation”.

He also added: “We must cement progress on these critical workstreams mitigation, adaptation, finance, and crucially loss and damage,” in addition to “enhance the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the process.”  

COP27 which will run till Nov. 18 is the largest annual gathering on climate action involving heads of state, ministers and negotiators, along with climate activists.  

Last May, Egypt announced to position itself as an impartial arbiter while hosting this year’s COP27 UN climate summit, as it pushes other nations to act on climate pledges while promoting the interests of the developing world, a senior Egyptian official told Reuters.

COP27 focuses on securing separate “loss and damage” funds, or compensation payments to climate-vulnerable countries already suffering from climate-related weather extremes, said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative to the COP27 president to Reuters.

“In this particular year it is in the interest of the process that a perception of impartiality and equal distance from everyone is maintained,” Aboulmagd disclosed.

Saudi NDMC closes March sukuk issuance at $897m  

Saudi NDMC closes March sukuk issuance at $897m  
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi NDMC closes March sukuk issuance at $897m  

Saudi NDMC closes March sukuk issuance at $897m  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center announced the closure of the Riyal-denominated sukuk program issuance for March with the total bid amount received at SR8.34 billion ($2.2 billion).   

The total amount allocated was SR3.37 billion with the sukuk issuance divided into tranches — the first has a size of SR2.77 billion maturing in 2031 and the second at SR600 million maturing in 2037.  

Also called an Islamic bond, sukuk is a debt product issued according to Shariah or Islamic laws.    

“This issuance confirms the NDMC's statement in the mid of February of this year that NDMC will continue, in accordance with the approved Annual Borrowing Plan, to consider additional funding activities subject to market conditions and through available funding channels locally or internationally,” NDMC’s website stated.  

This is to ensure the Kingdom's continuous presence in debt markets and manage the debt repayments for the coming years while considering market movements and the government debt portfolio risk management, the statement added.  

Last month, NDCM closed the issuance of SR3.65 billion while the total value of all bids received for February stood at SR3.71 billion.  

Also divided into two tranches, February sukuk issuance had a size of SR7.5 billion in the first tranche maturing in 2030. The second tranche is valued at SR5.6 billion with the maturity year of 2034. 

The program saw a decrease of SR280 million in the amount allocated in March compared to February despite seeing a massive increase in bids received month-over-month.  

According to an S&P Global report released in January, global sukuk issuances are expected to continue declining in 2023 to about $150 billion compared to $155.8 billion in 2022 and $170.4 billion in 2021.    

The Saudi Riyal Sukuk Program is one of the Kingdom’s financing tools where the Ministry of Finance issues local instruments that are then organized by the NDMC and later divided into monthly tranches for investors.   

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues climb 40% to $2.08bn in Q1 

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues climb 40% to $2.08bn in Q1 
Updated 16 min 53 sec ago

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues climb 40% to $2.08bn in Q1 

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues climb 40% to $2.08bn in Q1 

RIYADH: Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority took in $2.08 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2023, a 40 percent increase on the same period a year earlier, it has been revealed.

The authority announced that navigation traffic in the canal recorded a significant increase since the beginning of this year with 5,534 ships passing, which is a 19 percent increase from 4,660 ships during the same period in 2022. 

It also reported that the canal’s net tonnage climbed by 16 percent during the same period, totaling 320 million tons, up from 275 million tons the previous year. 

Speaking at the flying of the Egyptian flag on the locomotive ‘Amin Zaid’ event, Osama Rabie, head of the SCA, said the Suez Canal's revenues in March were new and unprecedented in terms of daily transit figures. 

Rabie acknowledged that strategic planning had a significant impact in mitigating the negative repercussions of numerous global economic challenges and even attaining an unparalleled increase in canal navigation rates, according to Sada ElBalad English 

The Suez Canal had the highest daily transit rate in its history in March, with 107 ships through from both directions without waiting, totaling 6.3 million tons of net tonnage. 

In early January, the SCA enforced its decision about ship crossing fees, which is to increase transit rates for all types of ships transiting the canal by 15 percent during the year 2023, while transit fees for both dry bulk boats and cruise ships increased by 10 percent. 

Also in January, SCA reported a 25 percent increase in its annual revenue earning $8 billion in transit fees in 2022, compared to $6.3 billion netted in 2021, following a series of toll hikes to help pad Egypt’s siphoned foreign reserves. 

SABIC appoints Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh as CEO

SABIC appoints Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh as CEO
Updated 41 min 30 sec ago

SABIC appoints Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh as CEO

SABIC appoints Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh as CEO

RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp., also known as SABIC has appointed Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh as its new CEO, effective from March 21, 2023.

Al-Fageeh has been working with SABIC as the acting CEO since Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan stepped down in September 2022. 

The decision to appoint Al-Fageeh was made after the board of director resolution on March 21, SABIC said in a regulatory filing on the Saudi stock exchange. 

In the statement, SABIC noted that Al-Fageeh is currently the chairman of SABIC Agri-Nutrients Co. and the Nusaned Investment Co. 

He is also the Chairman of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association and the Chairman of the Petrochemical Manufacturers Committee. 

Al-Fageeh is on the Board of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu and is also a board member of the Saudi General Authority of Foreign Trade. 

Al-Fageeh has been named the CEO of SABIC, just a few days after the company reported a 13 percent rise in total revenue to SR198.47 billion ($52.88 billion) in 2022, up from the SR174.88 billion recorded in 2021. 

SABIC’s net profit, however, fell by 28.35 percent to SR16.53 billion in 2022, due to a lower profit margin amid rising distribution costs. 

“SABIC 2022 results remain strong despite challenging market conditions. Our sales volumes continue to grow, exceeding the previous year’s sales by 9 percent and driven by growth projects, improved reliability, inventory optimization and synergies with Saudi Aramco,” said Al-Fageeh after announcing the financial results. 

Meanwhile, SABIC Agri-Nutrients reported SR10.03 billion net profit in 2022, registering 92 percent year-on-year growth, driven by higher average selling prices and sales volumes. 

Oil Updates — Crude falls; Russia maintains 500k bpd oil output cut to end June 

Oil Updates — Crude falls; Russia maintains 500k bpd oil output cut to end June 
Updated 22 March 2023

Oil Updates — Crude falls; Russia maintains 500k bpd oil output cut to end June 

Oil Updates — Crude falls; Russia maintains 500k bpd oil output cut to end June 

RIYADH: Oil slipped in Asian trade on Wednesday, after two straight days of gains, as an industry report showed US crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week in a sign demand may be weakening. 

Brent futures, which have risen more than 3 percent this week, were down 40 cents, or 0.53 percent, at $74.92 a barrel at 11.15 a.m. Saudi time.  

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 45 cents, or 0.65 percent, at $69.22. 

Data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed US crude inventories rose by about 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 17, Reuters reported citing sources.  

PDVSA head Tellechea appointed as new oil minister 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday named the head of state oil company PDVSA, Pedro Rafael Tellechea, as the new oil minister, a day after his predecessor resigned amid an extensive corruption investigation focused on the company. 

Former minister Tareck El Aissami resigned on Monday after the arrest of several government officials and judges in connection with graft investigations. 

Tellechea has been the head of PDVSA since January and ordered an audit into heavy losses suffered last year as tankers left the country without proper payments being made for cargo. 

Tellechea first rose to prominence as head of the state chemical company Pequiven, where he oversaw a boost in petrochemical exports that provided much-needed cash flow to Maduro’s administration. 

He kept that post even as he ran PDVSA. It was unclear whether a successor or successors would take over those jobs. 

Moscow to maintain 500,000 bpd oil output cut to end June 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that Russia will continue a 500,000 barrels per day oil production cut until the end of June. 

“At the moment, Russia is close to achieving the target level of reduction — it will be reached in the coming days,” Novak said, referring to the announcement he made last month that Russia would cut by 500,000 bpd from March. 

“In accordance with the current market situation, the decision to voluntarily reduce production by the amount of 500,000 bpd will be valid until June 2023 inclusive.” 

In a statement, Novak said the global oil market was under unprecedented pressure, citing Western energy embargoes against Russia and what he called dangerous attempts to cap the price of Russian oil. 

Russia’s unilateral output cut is in addition to an agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies known as OPEC+, which agreed to steep output cuts of 2 million bpd from November until the end of 2023.  

A high-level ministerial panel from the group is scheduled to meet on April 3 to discuss market conditions, with a full ministerial meeting planned for June 4. 

(With input from Reuters) 

IMF staff reaches agreement with Ukraine for $15.6bn program

IMF staff reaches agreement with Ukraine for $15.6bn program
Updated 22 March 2023

IMF staff reaches agreement with Ukraine for $15.6bn program

IMF staff reaches agreement with Ukraine for $15.6bn program

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund has reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine for a four-year financing package worth about $15.6 billion, offering funds the country needs as it continues to defend against Russia’s invasion, according to Reuters.

The agreement, which must still be ratified by the IMF’s board, takes into consideration Ukraine’s path to accession to the EU after the war. The fund said its executive board was expected to discuss approval in the coming weeks.

“The overarching goals of the authorities’ program are to sustain economic and financial stability in circumstances of exceptionally high uncertainty, restore debt sustainability, and support Ukraine’s recovery on the path toward EU accession in the post-war period,” IMF official Gavin Gray said in a statement announcing the agreement.

IMF staff on Tuesday briefed board members on the agreement — which would be Ukraine’s biggest loan package since Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022 — and the board was supportive, a source familiar with the matter said.

The global lender said the agreement was expected to help unleash large-scale financing for Ukraine from international donors and partners, but gave no details. Typically IMF loans unlock support from the World Bank and other lenders.

Calculations have in the past estimated the cost of reconstruction in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

“A gradual economic recovery is expected over the coming quarters, as activity recovers from the severe damage to critical infrastructure, although headwinds persist, including the risk of further escalation in the conflict,” said Gray.

IMF staff currently expected the change in Ukraine’s real gross domestic product for 2023 to range from -3 percent to +1 percent, Gray added.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal hailed the agreement and thanked the IMF for its support.

“In conditions of a record budget deficit, this program will help us finance all critical expenditure and ensure macroeconomic stability and strengthen our interaction with other international partners,” he said in a message on Telegram.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who paid a surprise visit to Ukraine last month, welcomed the deal after months of pushing for the IMF to move forward with a new financing package for Ukraine.

“An ambitious and appropriately conditioned IMF program is critical to underpin Ukraine’s reform efforts, including to strengthen good governance and address risks of corruption, and provide much needed financial support,” she said in a statement.

The US is the IMF’s largest shareholder.

If approved, as expected, the Ukraine program would be the IMF’s biggest loan to a country involved in an active conflict.

The fund last week changed a rule to allow new loan programs for countries facing “exceptionally high uncertainty,” without naming Ukraine.