Rising human activity threatens space sustainability, warn experts at COP28

Rising human activity threatens space sustainability, warn experts at COP28
During a panel on “Sustainability in Space,” the speakers noted that while space exploration programs were traditionally exclusively led by governments, the entry of the private sector has added complexity to the situation, with a significantly increased number of satellites being launched each year. AN Photo
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Updated 03 December 2023
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Rising human activity threatens space sustainability, warn experts at COP28

Rising human activity threatens space sustainability, warn experts at COP28

DUBAI: A threat to space sustainability has been underscored by experts at COP28 in Dubai, shedding light on the escalating impact of increased human activity. 

During a panel on “Sustainability in Space,” the speakers noted that while space exploration programs were traditionally exclusively led by governments, the entry of the private sector has added complexity to the situation, with a significantly increased number of satellites being launched each year. 

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman, of LIoyd’s of London, a leading insurance firm, said: “We have seen some 9,000 satellites now in Low Earth Orbit, and that has doubled just in the last two years. So, the risks are going up, the frequency of potential collisions is going up, and the debris as a result is hugely on the rise.”  

He added: “We need to put in place things at the outset that force people to clean up after themselves, rather than think about it as an afterthought.”  

According to Nick Shave, CEO of Astroscale, a British space firm, the problem is even more severe. “There are 40,000 objects in space that are anything bigger than about a grapefruit. As you can see, there’s quite a difference in those numbers. And that’s because there’s a lot of fragmentation. We’ve seen different pieces of debris or debris and satellites hit each other and create fragmentation,” Shave explained. 

The increasing incidents of space collisions are even more concerning as the debris simply stays in orbit for decades or even longer, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to remove, warned another expert. 

“If you are in the ocean, or you’re on land or in the air, if something breaks, it kind of comes down, and then you can easily pick it up. If something breaks in space, it’s up there for hundreds of years,” said Robbie Schingler, founder of Planet Labs PBC. 

However, experts added that technologies were being developed to solve the problem. “There are a number of companies, including my company Astroscale, developing what we call active debris removal technology,” said Shave.  

He explained that these technologies go into orbit to assess the debris up close, capture it with robotics or other technologies, bring it down into a lower orbit, and dispose of it in the Earth’s atmosphere.  

Shave added: “There are other ways we are looking to dispose of that forward. So, there are a number of technologies that we’re in the technology proving phase at the moment.” 

Even astronauts, who are currently the only inhabitants of space, believe that more — much more — should be done to protect space. 

“When I am asked about whether I, we are, part of the problem or part of the solution to anthropogenic climate change, I want to be guilty of nothing more than being an ambassador for sustainability. What more can we do? What more should we do to show, not merely say, that our sector is doing to space sustainability for a sustainable Earth?” said Meganne Christian, reserve astronaut and exploration commercialization lead at the UK Space Agency. 

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Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news
Updated 28 February 2024
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Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

NEW DELHI: Oil prices pulled back in Asia on Wednesday as the prospect of a delay in Washington’s rate-cutting cycle and a rise in US crude stocks offset a boost on Tuesday from news OPEC and its allies might extend its output cuts, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 30 cents, or 0.36 percent, to $83.35 a barrel by 6:02 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate futures dropped 28 cents to $78.59 a barrel.

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman signalled she is in no rush to cut US interest rates, particularly given upside risks to inflation that could stall progress on controlling price pressures or even lead to their resurgence.

Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Schmid made similar remarks on Monday. Their remarks underlined concern in financial markets that the potential economic benefits of lower rates will be pushed back.

“There is some profit-taking this morning after the past two sessions recouped the $2 per barrel of Mideast risk premium that crude shed on Friday,” said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda Insights.

“It’s a combined response to the weekly US crude stock surge in the API data this morning and continuing hope that a Gaza ceasefire deal will be reached in the next few days,” Hari added.

On Tuesday, US President Biden said Israel has agreed to halt military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. However, Israel and Hamas as well as Qatari mediators all sounded notes of caution about progress toward a truce in Gaza.

US crude stocks rose 8.43 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 23, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.

Gasoline inventories fell by 3.27 million barrels, and distillate stocks fell by 523,000 barrels, the data showed.

Brent and WTO futures rose more than $1 per barrel on Tuesday after Reuters reported the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, including Russia, will consider extending voluntary oil output cuts into the second quarter.

Extending the output cuts into the second quarter is “likely,” one of the OPEC+ sources said. Two said a longer extension to the end of 2024 was possible.

Last November, OPEC+ agreed to voluntary cuts totalling about 2.2 million barrels per day for the first quarter this year, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over its own voluntary cut.

Analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a note that such a move by the OPEC+ alliance would likely tighten the market.

Russian authorities announced on Tuesday a six-month ban on gasoline exports from March 1 to compensate for rising demand from consumers and farmers and to allow for planned maintenance of refineries.


Saudi PIF sets 7-year sukuk yield at 85 basis points above US Treasuries: Reuters

Saudi PIF sets 7-year sukuk yield at 85 basis points above US Treasuries: Reuters
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi PIF sets 7-year sukuk yield at 85 basis points above US Treasuries: Reuters

Saudi PIF sets 7-year sukuk yield at 85 basis points above US Treasuries: Reuters
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has set the yield for its seven-year dollar-denominated sukuk at 85 basis points above US Treasuries, according to a banking document reported by Reuters on Tuesday. The Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund adjusted the yield from its initial guidance of 115 basis points earlier in the day, following strong demand that led to orders surpassing $17 billion. (With inputs from Reuters)

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market
Updated 27 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sustainability drive is gaining momentum with the Ministry of Energy announcing the launch of clean diesel and Euro-5 compliant gasoline in the Kingdom’s market. 

According to a Saudi Press Agency report, these newly introduced fuels offer lower emissions than traditional diesel and gasoline.

Like their predecessors, these energy sources are suitable for all means of transportation, and are also expected to contribute to preserving the environment and achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the report added. 

Euro-5 is a standard set by the EU to regulate the emissions of vehicles. 

Saudi Arabia is leading the Middle East and North Africa region in sustainable efforts through various undertakings, including the Saudi Green Initiative. 

The Ministry of Energy said that the introduction of these two fuels comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to reduce emissions and reach net zero in 2060 through the application of the circular carbon economy approach. 

The report added that the launch of these resources would encourage car manufacturers to introduce the latest energy-efficient vehicle technologies to the Kingdom. 

In January, multi-project developer Red Sea Global announced that it has become the first company in Saudi Arabia to use low-carbon biofuel in all its delivery trucks.

In a press statement, RSG revealed that the entire fleet of land vehicles is now powered by electricity or biofuel. 

The biofuel is produced from used cooking oil sourced within Saudi Arabia. The type of fuel RSG has adopted emits only 0.17 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per liter, compared with 2.7kg CO2e per liter from regular diesel usage.


Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 27 February 2024
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Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi healthcare is poised to benefit from advanced medical interventions after Johnson & Johnson’s technology firm, J&J MedTech KSA, announced the launching of its direct operations in the Kingdom.  

The company provides high-tech medical and surgical equipment and aims to bring customers closer to a more streamlined experience, according to a statement.   

This move not only aligns with the firm’s commitment to enhancing medical interventions and improving clinical outcomes but also reflects the company’s ongoing investment in the future of Saudi healthcare, it added.   

Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech for Middle East & Africa, said: “We remain deeply vested in Saudi Arabia and in contributing to the Vision 2030 to support in developing the healthcare sector, driving economic growth, nurturing local talent, and fostering innovation.”    

She added: “As an entity, Johnson & Johnson has been present in Saudi Arabia for nearly 40 years, putting the needs of patients, families, physicians, and nurses first, and functioning as advocates for the health of the Saudi community.”   

The senior executive added that as the company transitions into this new direct model, its esteemed partners will have fewer obstacles in providing the best care for their patients.

Moreover, Trad Al-Khelaiwi general manager of J&J MedTech KSA, highlighted: “As a company that is dedicated to fostering local talent, our direct operations are also aimed at creating more opportunities within the Kingdom and supporting the government’s Saudization efforts.”

He added: “In fact, since the start of the project, we’ve made 76 new hires — with our priority and majority being KSA nationals.” 

Furthermore, Al-Khelaiwi emphasized that this transformative shift would bring the customers closer to Johnson & Johnson’s quality standards and help develop the local healthcare market with international know-how.

“By taking this bold step, we are not only embracing the health goals of Vision 2030 and aligning with the National Health Transformation Program but also spotlighting the immense potential of local talent in driving innovation and progress,” Transformation Director at Johnson & Johnson MedTech Peter Lane underscored. 

In November 2022, Johnson & Johnson announced providing digital solutions that will shorten the time patients spend in hospitals.  

According to Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East, the move was crucial in countries with lower bed capacity.  

“The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited,” Kulis said in an exclusive interview with Arab News at the time.


Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister
Updated 27 February 2024
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Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aspires to become one of the largest producers and exporters of clean energy, said Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

In an interview with the quarterly bulletin issued by the Saudi Association for Energy Economics, the minister said the Kingdom is capable of producing green and clean hydrogen at competitive prices.

Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom is focussing on all energy sources including solar, wind and green hydrogen as well as nuclear and geothermal.

This will help the Kingdom to reduce the consumption of liquid fuels in generating electricity and reaching the optimal energy mix, he added.

The minister cited the establishment of the largest green hydrogen production plant in NEOM as an example. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 250,000 tonnes by 2026.

Talking about the fluctuations in the oil market, he said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has mechanisms in place to deal with global crude market challenges.

Despite highlighting Saudi Arabia’s energy transition plans, Prince Abdulaziz said the need for fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, will continue for decades as also indicated by several industry reports.

The minister added that Saudi Arabia is working to reduce carbon emissions, and that it has a program to replace liquid fuels.

He explained that the program aims to run industrial facilities to rely on natural gas or alternative fuels as well as building renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, Prince Abdulaziz highlighted how Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its current renewable energy capacity from 700 megawatts to 2,800 MW by the end of 2023, with more than 800 MW of renewable energy sources still under implementation and about 1,300 MW in various stages of development. On top of that, the Kingdom plans to produce 200 additional MW this year.

The energy minister also revealed that work is underway to build one of the largest projects to capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide with an annual capacity of up to 9 million tonnes by 2030 and 44 million tons annually by 2035.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s goal to reduce emissions to 278 million tonnes annually by 2030.