Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality

Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality
Saudi Arabia is pursuing carbon neutrality with a multi-pronged approach that touches on everything from transportation to energy. (SPA)
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Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality

Saudi Arabia takes bold strides toward greener future and carbon neutrality
  • The Kingdom is actively contributing to offsetting emissions through a comprehensive carbon credit program

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has emerged as a key player when it comes to environmental responsibility, setting ambitious targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions via carbon credit offsets.

At the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s environmental initiatives is the dynamic approach to carbon neutrality. The Kingdom is determined to not only reduce its carbon footprint but also actively contribute to offsetting emissions through a comprehensive carbon credit program.

In an interview with Arab News, Louis Corapi, chief financial officer at Gulf Cryo, a Dubai-based gas firm, shed light on the significance of this initiative, following the company’s launch of a carbon capture and utilization facility in Rabigh.

“Through Vision 2030 and the 2060 commitment to carbon neutrality, Saudi Arabia set clear sustainability goals. Carbon credits are an important component of this strategy. Having an exchange is itself a signal to companies that this commitment is about action and requires broad participation,” Corapi said.

He added: “Secondly, credits will need to be independently verified to be counted. This field is still developing, but we’re confident that it will help to stratify the most and least effective projects.”

Corapi further added that the assignment of dollar values to carbon credits represents a transformative shift in incentivizing sustainability initiatives for companies. By attaching a monetary value to these credits, businesses gain a financial mechanism to support projects that might face challenges in traditional boardroom approvals. 

“We also recognize that there are industries that are both hard to abate and vital to global economies,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing carbon neutrality with a multi-pronged approach that touches on everything from transportation to energy.

The Kingdom realizes how critical it is to actively pursue offsetting measures in addition to actively reducing its own emissions.

“What’s less discussed is that there are also many industries that require carbon dioxide as a key component to their manufacturing process. That started to change in 2014 when Gulf Cryo, together with our partner Equate, started a carbon capture plant in Kuwait,” Corapi explained.

He added: “We just commissioned a new CO2 capture plant in Petro Rabigh and are constructing the plant at Ma’aden. Together these plants will capture over 1,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per day which means 1,000 tonnes per day of fossil fuel burning is permanently stopped.”

For many years, carbon dioxide emissions have been removed and stored using carbon capture utilization and storage methods, which also enhance the quality of natural gas.

In addition to ensuring fossil fuels satisfy the world’s pressing energy demands, carbon capture simultaneously lowers emission levels and provides a means of assisting in the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Saudi Arabia declared a target of 44 million tonnes of carbon capture year by 2035, setting a high standard for emission reduction.

By 2027, Aramco and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy hope to build a hub in Jubail with a 9 million tonne annual storage capacity.

“Today, projects are only viable when there is a clear end user for the CO2.  As long as businesses continue to evaluate investments with classical financial models, decisions are delayed, and emissions continue unabated,” Corapi said.

Furthermore, when asked for his opinion on what could be done better to implement carbon credit offset strategies, Corapi noted that “there is so much more to do, and that we don’t have time to waste,” adding: “We’ve demonstrated that effective technologies exist, but equipment is expensive to install.” 

He went on to say: “Today, projects are only viable when there is a clear end user for the CO2.  As long as businesses continue to evaluate investments with classical financial models, decisions are delayed, and emissions continue unabated.” 

FASTFACT

Saudi Arabia declared a target of 44 million tonnes of carbon capture year by 2035, setting a high standard for emission reduction. By 2027, Aramco and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy hope to build a hub in Jubail with a 9 million tonne annual storage capacity.

Corapi further emphasized that governments have the ability to influence investment decisions in sustainability by introducing new incentives. By strategically implementing policies, governments can sway the choices made by investors and businesses towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options.

“In coordination with other countries across the region, decisions are needed on what standard credits will be certified to and experts are needed to verify the effectiveness of local projects,” Corapi explained.

Additionally, he highlighted that Saudi Arabia is actively pursuing a leadership role in the realm of sustainability through a comprehensive and proactive approach.

According to Corapi, the Kingdom achieves this “through its publicly stated commitments, forums and action platforms it hosts and participates in, to bring different interests together, funding sources it makes available, and openness to ideas from concerned individuals, international organizations, business and government agencies.”

He said: “Saudi Arabia is working hard to establish a leadership position in sustainability and to urgently implement actions that will make a real difference.” 




The new carbon capture and utilization facility further steps up Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability efforts. (Supplied)

The new carbon capture and utilization facility, a collaborative project between Petro Rabigh and Gulf Cryo — the first of its kind in the western region of Saudi Arabia dedicated to the merchant market and the second overall in the Kingdom — further steps up Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability efforts.

The plant, which opened on Dec. 21, resulted from a long-term strategic partnership inked in March 2022 between the two companies to develop Petro Rabigh’s mono ethylene glycol facility in the Red Sea town of Rabigh.

The newly launched facility can directly capture 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day from the MEG plant.  It is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes annually, achieving an 85 percent reduction in its total annual carbon footprint. 

The plant will process the captured carbon dioxide to a high-purity food-grade level and transport it in liquid form for reuse. 

“This landmark project anchors our leading position in CCUS solutions in the region and marks our first carbon capture project in the Kingdom,” said Abdul Salam Al-Mazro, vice chairman of Gulf Cryo, in a statement.

He added: “It underscores the importance of managing the full CO2 value chain. We reduce emissions at source while utilizing the recovered CO2 as a vital resource to help decarbonize supply chains of various industries.”

Petro Rabigh will utilize a portion of this carbon dioxide stream internally, while Gulf Cryo will supply the remainder to various industries across the Kingdom.


World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%
Updated 15 April 2024
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World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

RIYADH: The World Bank has raised its expectations for Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 5.9 percent in 2025 from 4.2 percent predicted earlier in January.

In its latest report the bank, however, revised its 2024 forecast for the Kingdom’s gross domestic product growth downward to 2.5 percent from an earlier forecast of 4.1 percent.

Concurrently, the overall GDP growth forecast for Gulf Cooperation Council countries in 2024 has been reduced to 2.8 percent, down from 3.6 percent, while the 2025 forecast has been revised to 4.7 percent from 3.8 percent.  

The report also adjusted the UAE’s GDP growth forecast to 3.9 percent for 2024, up from the previously projected 3.7 percent, with a further rise to 4.1 percent in 2025, from 3.8 percent. 

Kuwait’s economy is expected to expand by 2.8 percent in 2024 and increase further to 3.1 percent in 2025.  

Similarly, Bahrain’s economy is likely to grow by 3.5 percent in 2024 and 3.3 percent in 2025, marking an increase from January’s projections. 

Meanwhile, Qatar’s economy saw a downward revision for its 2024 forecast from 2.5 percent to 2.1 percent but an upward revision for 2025 from 3.1 percent to 3.2 percent. 

Oman’s economy projections for 2024 and 2025 saw a marginal increase of 0.1 percent since the January forecast. 

This adjustment reflects the broader economic trends where the surge in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 bolstered oil-exporting economies in the Middle East and North Africa.  

In contrast, economic growth in non-oil-exporting nations — including MENA oil importers like Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and the West Bank and Gaza — has slowed. 

By 2024, the growth disparity between GCC oil exporters and developing oil importers is expected to narrow to just 0.9 percentage points, marking a significant shift from 2022 when GCC countries grew 5.6 percentage points faster, the report stated.  

“Developing oil exporters will grow 2.8 percent in 2024, down from 3.1 percent in 2023 while growth in developing oil importers is forecasted to decrease to 2.5 percent in 2024, down from 3.1 percent in 2023,” the report stated. 

Overall, the MENA region is expected to achieve a growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2024, which aligns with pre-COVID levels but still trails the global average.  

While other emerging markets and developing economies are also projected to remain below pre-pandemic growth rates, they are expected to surpass the MENA region by 1.2 percentage points in 2024.  


GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024
Updated 15 April 2024
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GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

RIYADH: The capital expenditures of national oil companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council are likely to grow by 5 percent in 2024 as compared to the previous year and are expected to reach $115 billion, according to a report.

The analysis by S&P’s Global Ratings, however, does not take into account the potential surge in spending from recent expansion plans such as the North Field West Project in Qatar, which it said could significantly boost expenditures.

The report highlighted that while the growth in capital expenditure is modest, Saudi Arabia’s planned output cuts in line with the current policy of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, is likely to decrease demand for drilling platforms, operating ratios, average daily production rates, and profitability among regional drilling companies, especially in the Kingdom.

“We stress-tested the effect of a hypothetical 15-20 percent loss of total rig demand in the region on GCC drillers, and we estimate that the debt to EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) of rated and publicly listed drillers based in GCC countries could increase by about 1x on average,” S&P Global Ratings Credit analyst Rawan Oueidat said.

“At this point, we think that drillers’ rating headroom could shrink, but we don’t expect any short-term rating pressure,” Oueidat added.

The agency also raised concerns about the future of capital expenditure in other oil and gas-producing countries of the GCC, following Saudi Aramco’s decision to suspend its plan to increase the Kingdom’s maximum production capacity.

Despite these concerns, the total oil capital expenditure in the region is expected to remain relatively high due to the ongoing expansion plans in Qatar and the UAE.

However, the pace and magnitude of spending are expected to impact oilfield service companies and the entire value chain, particularly drilling companies whose business models heavily rely on corporate capital expenditures.

The UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is set to increase its oil production capacity to 5 million barrels per day by 2027, up from 4 million bpd as of February 2024, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, Qatar is aiming to boost its liquefied natural gas production capacity to 142 million tonnes annually by 2030 from the current output of 77 million tonnes.

The report predicted oil prices to average $85 per barrel for the remainder of 2024 and $80 per barrel the following year.

It also suggested that geopolitical tensions and planned production cuts by OPEC+ will support prices and enhance the cash flows of oil companies across the Gulf region.


Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1
Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

RIYADH: As many as 32,343 Saudi families benefitted from Sakani’s housing options during the first quarter of 2024, marking an annual 15 percent increase.

In collaboration with the Real Estate Development Fund and financial institutions, the program provides a variety of housing support packages to encourage first-time house buyers, including non-refundable financial assistance of SR100,000 ($26,659) or SR150,000.

The number of the Kingdom’s households that purchased their first homes reached 25,391 in the first three months of the year, reflecting the objective of Sakani to offer a variety of residential options and financial solutions.

Founded in 2017 by the Saudi Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund, the program aims to increase the proportion of families that own a home in the Kingdom to 70 percent by 2030, in line with the economic diversification strategy Vision 2030.

Figures from Sakani showed that the number of beneficiary households reached 12,184 in March, with 9,381 Saudi families obtaining their first residence.

In January, Sakani announced that more than 100,000 Saudi families benefited from the initiative in 2023, while the number of applicants who obtained their first home over that 12 month period reaching 98,475.

The core objectives of the Sakani initiative are to enable homeownership in the Kingdom by creating new housing stock, assigning plots and properties to citizens, and providing financing for their purchases.

The Sakani website and application provide a wide range of housing facilities and services, such as real estate consultancy, issuance of real estate transaction tax certificates and a display of financing institution rates.

It also provides electronic financing and the disbursement of land contracts, engineering design services, access to certified contractors, and additional services.


Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data
Updated 15 April 2024
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Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

RIYADH: A fall in food and beverage prices helped drive Qatar’s inflation down 1.4 percent in March as compared to the previous month, official data showed.

According to a report released by the country’s Planning and Statistics Authority, the consumer price index reached 106.67 points in March.

Compared to February, expenses for food and beverages slid by 4.74 percent in March. Prices for recreation and culture witnessed a decline of 5.58 percent during the same period. 

Similarly, costs for restaurant and hotels, as well as furniture and household equipment, decreased by 1.92 percent and 0.34 percent, respectively, in March compared to the previous month. 

On the other hand, prices for clothing and footwear increased by 1.88 percent, followed by expenses for transport, which went up by 0.23 percent. 

Cost of healthcare and communication remain unchanged in March, data showed.

However, the Gulf country’s annual consumer price index edge up by 0.98 percent in March compared to the same month of the previous year.

The year-on-year surge in prices was driven by recreation and culture (8.48 percent), communication (3.84 percent), education (3.48 percent), food and beverages  (2.73 percent), furniture and household equipment (1.28 percent), and miscellaneous goods and services (0.83 percent).

A year-on-year decrease has been recorded in the prices of  clothing and footwear, followed by housing, water, electricity and other fuel. 

Qatar’s economy is expected to stabilize in the near future after experiencing a surge in 2022 due to hosting the FIFA World Cup, according to the IMF.  

The Washington-based lender has forecasted a 1.9 percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product for 2024. 

Highlighting Qatar’s resilience to recent global disturbances, the IMF stated that the country’s economic prospects are promising. 

Furthermore, it noted that the Hamas-Israel conflict has not had any discernible impact on Qatar. 

“Risks are broadly balanced. Maintaining prudent macroeconomic policy and intensifying reform efforts will support Qatar’s resilience to shocks and accelerate its economic transformation,” the IMF said. 


Closing Bell: TASI gains 41 points to close at 12,708, reaches $2.59bn trade volume  

Closing Bell: TASI gains 41 points to close at 12,708, reaches $2.59bn trade volume  
Updated 15 April 2024
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Closing Bell: TASI gains 41 points to close at 12,708, reaches $2.59bn trade volume  

Closing Bell: TASI gains 41 points to close at 12,708, reaches $2.59bn trade volume  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index closed at 12,708.34 points on Monday, gaining 41.44 points, or 0.33 percent.  

The parallel market Nomu also gained 158.48 points, or 0.6 percent, to conclude at 26,548.59.   

However, the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index fell 4.77 points – 0.3 percent – to finish at 1,610.23.  

The main index posted a trading value of SR9.7 billion ($2.59 billion), with 172 stocks advancing and 54 declining. On the other hand, Nomu reported a trade volume of SR103.7 million.  

Saudi Cable Co. was the top performer on TASI as its share price surged 9.89 percent to SR77.80. Saudi Chemical Co. followed next with its share price jumping 7.62 percent to close at SR8.19.  

Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. was also among the top performers, climbing 7.19 percent to SR33.55. Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance Co. and Al Yamamah Steel Industries Co. increased 6.82 and 6.81 percent to SR26.15 and SR42.35, respectively.  

Conversely, Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. recorded the most significant dip, declining 2.73 percent to SR270.40.  

Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. and the National Co. for Glass Industries also experienced setbacks, with their shares dropping to SR368.20 and SR45.90, reflecting declines of 2.33 and 2.24 percent, respectively. Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co. and Saudi Awwal Bank also reported significant losses.  

Nomu’s top performer was Abdulaziz and Mansour Ibrahim Albabtin Co., which saw a 9.49 percent jump to SR45. Amwaj International Co. and Meyar Co. also recorded notable gains, with their shares closing at SR55.60 and SR73.90, marking an increase of 8.59 and 5.57 percent, respectively. Alqemam for Computer Systems Co. and Professional Medical Expertise Co. also fared well.  

Raoom Trading Co. was the worst performer on the parallel market, declining by 7.72 percent to SR145.80. Other underperformers included Al Mohafaza Co. for Education and Mohammed Hasan AlNaqool Sons Co., whose share prices dropped 4.67 percent and 3.68 percent to SR20.80 and SR44.50, respectively.  

Alhasoob Co. and Mulkia Investment Co. declined during the day to settle at SR67.20 and SR34, respectively.