IEA's Birol warns of tighter energy supply next winter 

IEA's Birol warns of tighter energy supply next winter 
International Energy Agency head Fatih Birol. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 February 2023

IEA's Birol warns of tighter energy supply next winter 

IEA's Birol warns of tighter energy supply next winter 

BERLIN: International Energy Agency head Fatih Birol has warned of possible energy shortages next winter as relatively little new liquefied natural gas is coming to the market while China's consumption is set to rise this year. 

European governments made many correct decisions over the last year to ensure energy supply, such as building more LNG terminals to replace pipeline deliveries of Russian gas, Birol told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday. 

But they also got lucky, he said, with a mild winter dampening demand while economic weakness in China led to the first drop in consumption there for 40 years. 

"For this winter it is right to say that we are off the hook. If there are no last-minute surprises, we should get through...maybe with some bruises here and there," said Birol. "But the question is...what happens next winter?" 

An additional 23 billion cubic meters of LNG is expected this year, Birol said, adding that even with only a small increase in economic output as pandemic restrictions ease, China would likely swallow 80 percent of the extra gas. 

"Even though we have enough LNG import terminals, there may not be enough gas to import and therefore it will not be easy this coming winter for Europe," he said, noting this would likely push prices up again. 

"It is not right to be relaxed, it is not right now to celebrate". 

Even with a renewed push to develop new gas fields, it would be years before they came online, he said. 

Households and firms, therefore, need to continue efforts to reduce gas usage while renewable energy output needs to expand faster, he said. 

Klaus Mueller, head of the German network agency which regulates gas and electricity markets, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk on Sunday also said he could not exclude possible gas shortages next winter, especially as Germany would now have to fill storage facilities without Russian pipeline gas. 

"We can manage it but will have to really make a big effort," he said, adding that it would be good not to let storage levels drop too far below the current 71.52 percent. 

In the interview, Birol also warned countries that had decided to phase out nuclear energy to reconsider if this was the best time to do so, saying the temporary extension of Germany's last nuclear plants until April for example was a step in the right direction. 

"We need all energy sources to help us for the next winter," he said. 


World comes together to tackle climate issues in Helsinki

World comes together to tackle climate issues in Helsinki
Updated 30 May 2023

World comes together to tackle climate issues in Helsinki

World comes together to tackle climate issues in Helsinki
  • Over 2,000 participants from more than 100 countries are attending the World Circular Economy Forum
  • One of the issues addressed was about being more organized with our resources and using them wisely

HELSINKI: Climate change, pollution, excess waste, renewable energy and more were on the agenda as expert speakers, environmentalists and business moguls gathered to discuss and tackle the issues affecting planet Earth on Tuesday’s first day of the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki.

The circular economy and how companies can adopt the model was discussed, as many companies would like to embrace it but lack the knowledge. They need examples in order to be inspired and to learn.

One of the issues addressed was about being more organized with our resources and using them wisely. At the moment, the world has an excess of resources that are poorly managed and an influx of food insecurity, with an estimated 2.3 billion people — about 29 percent of the global population — facing dangerous levels of food security.

The momentum and drive behind the forum was to equip businesses with the know-how and enthusiasm to embrace the circular economy.

Ahead of the forum, Arab News spoke to Anne Vasara, the Finnish ambassador for the circular economy and energy. She said: “It’s really a super week. We have so many events going on around the World Circular Economy Forum because, of course, this forum itself is the flagship of the circular economy of Finnish origin, of the Finnish Innovation Fund, SITRA, and the Finnish government, and it has been for several years.”

We know that what we need to do is find solutions to many global environmental problems, of which one of the most urgent at the moment is climate change.

Anne Vasara

Finnish ambassador for the circular economy and energy

She explained that the forum aims to bring together “all the most important actors, organizations, governments, private sector, academia related to the circular economy … (There) will be a record participation of over 2,000 participants from all over the world. And this is really something which is crucial for the circular economy because you cannot do it on your own.”

Vasara added: “You need wide international cooperation because we are talking about the planetary crisis, we are talking about solutions. How, in a positive manner, by the circular economy, we can bring solutions to climate change, to biodiversity loss and the depletion of all natural resources. So, this is really a week of possibilities and solutions.”

Kerstin Stendhal, Finland’s special envoy for climate change, told Arab News: “It’s come at a very good time to Helsinki, because at the moment what we are seeing is a lot of things happening in the international environmental arena. Next week, we will be going to the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which will be preparing for the extremely important forthcoming COP28, which will be held in Dubai.

“And so, the world is coming together … We know that what we need to do is find solutions to many global environmental problems, of which one of the most urgent at the moment is climate change. That’s why I think it’s also really, really good that this week we will be having the World Circular Economy Forum here in Helsinki.”

Stendhal added: “What we also need to do is, while we recognize the problems and we know very well about the problems — the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has told us about the climate change challenges that we are faced with — we also know that we have a lot of solutions. And these are the ones that we will need to be communicating about in order to both combat, to lessen emissions, to adapt to a world that is changing, whether we want it or not. And also to prepare a world which is fit for our future generations and children.”

This is the seventh edition of the World Circular Economy Forum and 20 international organizations are contributing to the issues being discussed. About 2,000 participants from more than 100 countries are attending in person and another 6,000 are viewing online.

Last year’s forum was held in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda’s Environment Minister Dr. Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya said in a speech at this year’s event: “(We have seen) trailblazing circular solutions from Africa. The global circular economy movement is growing. Last year’s forum launched an action plan and roadmap — implementation is on the way.”


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. issues $933m in sukuk to spur liquidity in realty market

Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. issues $933m in sukuk to spur liquidity in realty market
Updated 30 May 2023

Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. issues $933m in sukuk to spur liquidity in realty market

Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. issues $933m in sukuk to spur liquidity in realty market

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s housing market will get a fresh stream of liquidity, with Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. announcing SR3.5 billion ($933 million) in sukuk issuances. 

The latest issuance of the SRC, owned by the Public Investment Fund, marked the sixth tranche under its upsized SR20 billion sukuk program. 

The real estate finance company will keep boosting market liquidity and assisting lenders and investors, which will stabilize the Saudi mortgage market, stated SRC CEO Fabrice Susini.   

Furthermore, this move will also speed up the rise of homeownership in the country, he added. 

“The positive response from investors to SRC’s latest sukuk issuance is a clear testament to the strength of the Kingdom’s housing market and economy,” Susini said.

“As SRC continues to refinance existing financings for financiers, we are proud to contribute to developing a robust secondary home financing market that supports the efficiency and stability of the primary housing market,” the CEO continued.   

Earlier this month, SRC received an “A-” classification at the level of global credit and “ksaAAA” at the level of local credit with a stable outlook from the credit rating agency S&P Global.   

According to the rating company, an obligatory rated “A-” falls under an upper-medium category, indicating strong creditworthiness and a good capacity to meet its financial commitments.   

On the other hand, a rating of “AAA” on the national scale means the debtor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation relative to other national debtors is extremely strong.   

According to the SRC website, the real estate financing company is rated “A-” stable by Fitch Ratings and “A2-” stable by Moody’s Investors Service. 
Founded in 2017 by the Kingdom’s PIF, SRC’s primary role is to provide banks and real estate finance companies with liquidity, enabling growth in the home financing sector to increase homeownership rates among Saudi citizens. 

The company issued two sukuks in 2022, the first tranche totaling SR4 billion in April and the other SR3 billion in September. 


Closing bell: Saudi main index closes flat at 11,140 points

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes flat at 11,140 points
Updated 30 May 2023

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes flat at 11,140 points

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes flat at 11,140 points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index remained steady for the second consecutive day, gaining 4.31 points or 0.04 percent to close at 11,139.98. 

Parallel market Nomu, however, dropped 64.82 points to 20,943.02, while the MSCI Tadawul Index closed 0.23 percent up at 1,483.78. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.94 billion ($1.32 billion) as 74 listed stocks advanced, while 130 retreated.

The top-performing stock of the day was National Medical Care Co., as its share price surged 8.57 percent to SR114. 

Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Co. and Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. also performed well on Tuesday, as their share prices rose by 5.22 percent and 4.44 percent, respectively. 

Buruj Cooperative Insurance Co. was the worst performer; its share price dropped 3.98 percent to SR20.24.

Savola Group and Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co. were the worst performers, whose share prices fell 3.93 percent and 3.89 percent, respectively. 

On Tuesday, the share price of Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. hit an all-time high of SR318.80 since its debut in Tadawul in 2005. The company, however, closed its trading at SR306 at the end of today’s session. 

Meanwhile, First Milling Co. has announced that it has set the initial public offering final price at SR60, implying a market capitalization of SR3.3 billion. 

In a statement to Tadawul, the company said the IPO coverage ratio reached 68.9 times.

“The impressive demand by participating parties for First Mills’ offer shares is a resounding validation of the company’s investment thesis. They appreciate the company’s long-term value creation potential supported by its market leadership, diverse product portfolio, outstanding financial performance and effective leadership team,” said Abdullah Ababtain, CEO of First Milling Co. 

On Tuesday, Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co., also known as Luberef, announced that it signed an amendment to its feedstock agreement with Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to supply additional 5,000 barrels per day of reduced crude oil. 

In a bourse filing, Luberef said that this amendment is expected to increase the total quantity of RCO received in its Yanbu facility from 45,000 bpd to 50,000 bpd, subject to product availability.

“This increase in RCO quantity is part of a business transformation program which is in line with Saudi Aramco’s transformation initiative for its joint ventures,” said Luberef in the statement. 

The Saudi Public Transport Co. announced the contract sign-off with the Jazan municipality for operating the public transport network in the region at a contract value of SR93 million.

SAPTCO said that the project will positively impact the company’s revenues in the second half of 2023. 


Saudi Arabia issues 55 mining licenses in April

Saudi Arabia issues 55 mining licenses in April
Updated 30 May 2023

Saudi Arabia issues 55 mining licenses in April

Saudi Arabia issues 55 mining licenses in April

RIYADH: The number of mining licenses handed out in Saudi Arabia showed sustained growth for the third consecutive month, as the government issued 55 new permits in April. 

According to the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, this number is up from the 27 handed out in March and the 18 handed out in February. 

In April, the ministry issued 34 licenses for exploration, 17 for quarrying building materials, three for surplus mineral ores and one for mining and small mine exploitation.  

The total number of licenses issued in the sector until April numbered 2,336, including 1,454 permits for quarrying building materials, 634 for scavenging, 180 for mining and small mine exploitation, 36 for reconnaissance activities and 32 for the surplus of mineral ores.   

Moreover, Riyadh bagged 573 permits, Makkah 384, the Eastern Province 374 and Madinah 258. 

The ministry further reported that Asir issued 213 permits, Tabuk 149, Al-Qasim 90, Jazan 80 and Hail 68 in April. On the other hand, the number of permits Najran gave stood at 55, Al-Baha 39, the Northern Borders 27 and Al-Jawf 26.

The ministry has been actively pursuing opportunities to protect the mining sector and maximize its value in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals and the National Industry Development and Logistics Program.   

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is on track to transform mining into the third pillar of the national industry and work to exploit the mineral resources in the Kingdom spread across more than 5,300 sites and valued at about SR5 trillion ($1.33 trillion).   

Last January, Mike Henry, the CEO of Australian mining giant BHP, stressed that mining activities of critical minerals worldwide should be accelerated to meet the energy transition targets over the next 30 years as the world dreams of a sustainable future.  

Speaking at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh, Henry said it is impossible to meet the rising demand for critical minerals if the world continues to move at the current pace.    

“Over the next 30 years, in order to meet the needs of the energy transition, the world is going to need two times as much copper, four times as much nickel, two times as much steel, and two times as much iron ore, as was needed over the past 30 years,” he said.


Saudi Central Bank grants Tarabut Gateway open banking certification

Saudi Central Bank grants Tarabut Gateway open banking certification
Updated 30 May 2023

Saudi Central Bank grants Tarabut Gateway open banking certification

Saudi Central Bank grants Tarabut Gateway open banking certification

CAIRO: As part of its efforts to become a global fintech hub, Saudi Arabia has granted open banking certification to Dubai-based Tarabut Gateway. 

Following the approval from the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, the fintech company aims to intensify its operations in the Kingdom. 

Tarabut Gateway, the region’s leading regulated open banking platform, has become one of the early recipients of SAMA’s permit to carry out its operations in Saudi Arabia.

Talking to Arab News, Abdullah Almoayed, CEO and founder of the fintech company, said that consumers in Saudi Arabia can now expect a wide range of innovative and personalized financial services.  

“We are aware of the unique challenges faced by small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia, particularly regarding cash-flow management and access to funding. We will address this issue head-on by assisting SMEs to access the funding they need, via open banking-enabled financial services and products,” Almoayed said.  

He said: “The new era of financial services we stand for is user-centric and contributes to customers’ financial well-being.”  

Tarabut Gateway is crafting its strategies to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s financial transformation, aligning its objectives with the Vision 2030 blueprint, Almoayed added.  

“To become one of the first entities to receive this certification, we had to prove our capabilities and commitment to Saudi Arabia’s rapidly evolving financial landscape which aligns perfectly with key objectives of our strategic growth plan,” Almoayed stated.  

He further added that, since its inception, TG’s role has been to anticipate and proactively adapt to regulatory innovation.  

“We were always working closely with regulators to foster sector innovation. We want to streamline financial operations on an industrial scale and facilitate economic growth in the process,” he said.  

With its focus on energizing the fintech ecosystem, the fintech company is set to provide a dynamic platform that enables banks, SMEs, lenders, and large corporations to tap into data, facilitate payments and devise groundbreaking financial solutions.  

“Demand for innovative financial solutions in the Kingdom is strong and consumer-driven,” Almoayed said.  

“In building the pipelines for financial data to flow freely between players in the finance industry, we provide organizations with the tools to innovate and think of novel solutions. This will improve consumers’ overall financial experiences and is part of our mission to contribute to a financially savvy and inclusive society,” he added.  

The company recently secured $32 million in funding in an effort to catalyze its open banking operations within the Kingdom.