Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of nuclear energy

Along with KHNP and the IAEA engaging in discussion with Saudi Arabia to help the country realize its nuclear ambitions, the World Nuclear Association, the global nuclear industry trade body, has also been holding talks with the Kingdom. File
Along with KHNP and the IAEA engaging in discussion with Saudi Arabia to help the country realize its nuclear ambitions, the World Nuclear Association, the global nuclear industry trade body, has also been holding talks with the Kingdom. File
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Updated 08 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of  nuclear energy

DUBAI: The International Atomic Energy Agency, the global overseer of the nuclear industry, says it is collaborating with Saudi Arabia to assist the Kingdom in developing its nuclear power production sector.

Given its key role in the regional energy landscape, there is a pressing need for production to transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon or zero-carbon emitting sources.

Wei Huang, director at the Department of Nuclear Energy of IAEA told Arab News in an interview on the sidelines of the 2023 Climate Change Conference that the Kingdom’s “very fast development” towards nuclear energy has been noticed by the agency.

“Now they are in the bidding process to try to get nuclear power into their energy mix. So, we hope we can see a substantial outcome of this process. We are seeing quite strong interest in this region in using nuclear power to improve the energy mix and the security energy mix, but also help to decarbonize the greenhouse gas emissions in the region,” he said.

Huang noted it is encouraging that the countries in this region, which are rich in fossil fuels, are now looking at nuclear energy as an alternative to minimize carbon emissions. He added that the IAEA supports member nations looking to develop nuclear power production. 

“Our agents provide a lot of technical support to make sure the country can be prepared well before they are moving toward nuclear power, including help them to review their infrastructure.”

He added that there are 19 milestones that every country must achieve before taking the nuclear route and that IAEA assists them in reaching these landmarks, which cover a vast spectrum from nuclear, finance, funding, human resources, safety and safeguards.

Huang welcomed statements from US Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry, voicing his appreciation for Kerry’s emphasis on global collaboration in nuclear fusion. He highlighted the proactive engagement of the IAEA in nuclear fusion technology alongside its partners and member states.

“We see quite a significant development in this area. Of course, compared to fission, which has been widely used over decades, there is still a lot of work to be to be done to make sure that fusion can be really be deployed in the coming decades. And so our agency has, you know, discussed with our member states and also partner to see how much we can do. We are now working on how to transfer nuclear fusion from mainly the science focus to more engineering-focused activities, including the regulatory framework on the fusion. So this is what the agency is doing now and there will be a lot of work to be done in a couple of years to make sure all the aspects had been prepared well for,” Huang said.

While Saudi Arabia is at the initial stage of nuclear power development, its neighbor, the UAE, has already established three operational units at its Barakah Nuclear Power Station, while the fourth unit is in the pipeline. 

“At Barakah, we have four units, of which three are operational. The fourth unit will come online soon. Together, the four units will produce about 5.6 gigawatts of electricity, which is equivalent to 25 percent of the total electricity production in the UAE. At Barakah, we have used APR1400 reactors, a Generation 3+ nuclear reactor built with Korean technology, constructed to the highest level of safety and quality. Moving forward, we would like to invest in other nuclear power plants and will examine all options,” Khaled Al-Shehhi, nuclear fuel quality surveillance manager at Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., which owns Barakah, told Arab News.

The Barakah Nuclear Power Station is a $20 billion project bagged by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., a state-owned enterprise and one of the world’s largest operators of nuclear power plants. The company says it is also looking to develop its exports in other markets.

“We are here at COP28 to introduce our Korea Small Modular Reactor known as i-SMR. They are really sustainable energy solutions that will help nations to reach net zero goals. Regarding the development and export of our i-SMR, KHNP is actively engaged in discussions with various countries, including Philippines and the UAE. The adoption of our i-SMR is expected to accelerate the journey toward a carbon neutrality, especially in countries facing infrastructure limitations for large nuclear power plants such as South East Asia region and some regions which have difficulties in tapping renewable energies,” Sonia Sunyoung Hong, SMR overseas business team manager at KHNP told Arab News.

She added that KHNP’s relationship with the UAE could be a perfect example for other nations in the region, including Saudi Arabia. 

“Our relationship with the UAE is a good example of how we get countries with no nuclear experience. For instance, when we began working with the UAE in 2009, the UAE government had no experience of nuclear industry. They did not have any regulations, guidelines at all. KHNP helped and supported the government in developing concrete regulations and guidelines for the nuclear power plant implementation for the first time for the world,” Hong said.

As well as the IAEA engaging in discussions with Saudi Arabia to help the Kingdom realize its nuclear ambitions, the World Nuclear Association, the global industry trade body, has also been holding talks with Riyadh, said King Lee, head of policy and industry engagement at WNA.

“Saudi Arabia has been planning to deploy nuclear energy, and they have been planning that for some time. It is really aimed to address that quality need for clean power. Currently, most of the electricity generated from Saudi Arabia is from fossil fuels, from both burning of gas and oil. So nuclear power can help to generate clean power for Saudi Arabia. So Saudi Arabia is looking for both large reactors and the small, more advanced technology, small modular reactors. So, both the technologies are being considered for Saudi Arabia. We have been discussing with the Saudi government and institutions,” the official told Arab News.

When discussing fusion energy, he agreed with Huang of IAEA that it was still an evolving technology. 

 “Fusion is a technology that is currently under development, and we continue to support the research and development so that, hopefully, fusion reactors will become technically and commercially deployable. Research is going on in many countries, but we don’t have a timetable on as to when it may become available,” the WNA executive added.


Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 
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Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

RIYADH: Liquidity management in Jordan’s cash market is set to undergo a significant transformation as the country’s central bank introduces new tools for monetary policy. 

Aligned with Shariah laws, the Central Bank of Jordan has introduced these instruments in collaboration with Islamic banks operating within the country. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of liquidity management in the cash market, the Jordan News Agency reported. 

These new measures will not only assist Islamic banks in achieving more flexible liquidity management but also contribute to the establishment of an effective interbank market among them. 

Under the framework of these tools, the central bank will be able to provide Islamic banks with daytime liquidity, overnight liquidity, and liquidity extending up to one week.

This will be done based on the banks’ requests or at the apex bank’s initiative, allowing flexibility in terms of timing, amount, and duration. The Central Bank of Jordan will determine these parameters to align with its operational objectives in implementing monetary policy.  

This move by the central bank comes as part of its efforts to develop the operational framework of monetary policy and diversify the tools at its disposal. The decision is in line with the best practices of central banks and addresses the specific needs of the local cash and banking market, as reported by PETRA. 

In a related development, earlier in January, 16 Jordanian banks jointly launched the first private sector investment fund, committing $388 million to foster the growth of local businesses. 

The Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, established in 2021 with a capital commitment of 275 million dinars ($387.6 million), was officially registered under the 2022 Investment Environment Law, the state news agency reported. 

The instrument aims to inject money into emerging firms with growth, development, and expansion prospects, providing financing to enhance job opportunities and propel nationwide growth, as stated in an official statement reported by the Jordan News Agency. 

As the country’s first and largest private sector investment fund, it is designed to allocate funds to vital and promising sectors, such as food and health security, manufacturing, and information and communication technology. The objective is to harness Jordan’s potential in building the future, it added. 

At that time, Hani Al-Qadi, the chairman of the Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, had said the fund is crucial for achieving “accelerated growth” by fully leveraging Jordan’s economic potential. 


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.