CESI: Saudi Arabia has Potential to Lead Regional Energy Production

Riyadh — Italian Chief Executive Officer of CESI Matteo Codazzi said that Saudi Arabia enjoys all the conditions needed to become a leading energy production giant—especially in light of its ambitious programs on technology and localization of the renewable energy industry on an international scale.

Codazzi said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia is taking serious and driven steps based on Kingdom Vision 2030 concerning the transport and development of experiences in renewable and solar energy.

CESI, a global technical consulting and engineering company which started its operations in the Middle East in 2012 and is among the few notified bodies in the industry involved in regulatory framework development, envisions to ‘shape a better energy future.’

Codazzi added that CESI’s presence in Saudi Arabia is a key building block in the energy industry and will become one of the most important contributors to Vision 2030’s vision for localization of the electrical, renewable and solar industries in terms of international standards.

“We are committed to facilitating the region’s ambition of ecological footprint reduction,” said Matteo Codazzi, Chief Executive Officer of CESI. “We address the region’s critical sustainability issues and work towards achieving green goals including that Vision 2030 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is moving forward in the development of its industrial capabilities to become a more sustainable country, taking into consideration the security and safety measures, and applying them, providing testing services related to the electromechanical industry, as well as consulting and engineering services related to the energy sector.

He said that the agreement signed by the company with the Gulf Laboratory for testing electrical equipment recently in Riyadh, including the establishment and development of the first laboratory equipped with the latest technical and electromechanical specifications for the conduct of electrical tests for high and low voltage.

Global technical consulting and engineering company Cesi and GCC Electrical Testing Laboratory (GCC Lab) have signed a term sheet for the development and operation of a state-of-the-art electrical testing facility in Saudi Arabia.

The testing platform will perform a wide range of electromechanical testing activities and provide technical services. The lab will be a key asset to support the policies promoted by Saudi Arabia in order to sustain the electrical industry in the GCC region.

The agreement will also cover the needs and objectives of the local market to form the basis for advanced capabilities of the electrical testing market in the region and increase the quality of manufacturing to bring this industry and sector to the highest level.

European Commission Approves €200m Loan for Tunisia

Tunis – The European Commission approved this week the disbursement of a €200 million loan to Tunisia as part of a total of €500 million to be disbursed in three installments in 2017 and 2018.

“The disbursement to Tunisia is proof of our strong commitment to support the successful economic recovery of one of our closest neighbors,” the Commission said.

This disbursement marks the launch of the second Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA-II) program to Tunisia.

The Commission proposed it in February last year and the European Parliament and the Council adopted it on July 6, 2016 in an attempt to help Tunisia overcome the repercussions of the terrorist attacks of 2015, which contributed to halting Tunisia’s economic recovery.

The EU’s strategy of assistance to Tunisia includes budget support programs and substantial loans from the European Investment Bank.

The EU calls for the implementation of a number of policy conditions targeting fiscal consolidation as well as the improvement of Tunisia’s social assistance schemes and business climate.

Saudi Finance Minister: Significant Progress in Implementing Economic Reforms

Riyadh- In a speech at the Saudi Investment Forum hosted by J.P. Morgan in New York on Tuesday, Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan lauded the Kingdom’s economic policy and its pivotal role in achieving the Saudi Vision 2030 in the light of the remarkable transformation witnessed by the Kingdom. He drew attention to the comprehensive reforms in various sectors in the Kingdom, including modernization and diversification of the economy in order to reduce dependence on oil.

Jadaan said the Vision represents a very clear roadmap for the Kingdom’s destination.

The finance minister stated that the business community in the Kingdom has begun to reap the fruits of these reforms through a more stable working environment and greater confidence for investors.

This is evidenced by the successful issuance of international and local debt securities in the Kingdom, he said, adding that the initial offering of international sukuk (Islamic bond) in April attracted great attention from international investors with an over-subscription reaching more than $33 billion against the actual issuance of $9 billion, which is the largest offering for sukuk in the world.

He stated that there has been significant progress achieved by the Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program of 2020 towards the Kingdom’s stated goal – a balanced budget through financial reform.

“The steps being taken by the Kingdom are not merely an austerity, but rather a focus on raising the efficiency of expenditure and supporting the purchasing power of low and middle income segment of the Saudi society through the ‘Citizen’s Account’ in order to assist them in addressing correction initiatives of energy price, in addition to supporting the private sector,” he added.

Jadaan unveiled plans to further deepen and expand Saudi capital markets. “We will move ahead with the privatization program and will continue to encourage the growth of private businesses so as to achieve ambitious goals,” the minister concluded.

Morocco, Russia Promote Cooperation with Signing of 11 Agreements

Morocco’s Prime Minister Saadeddine al-Othmani (R) meets his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev in Rabat on October 11, 2017

Rabat- Morocco and Russia boosted bilateral cooperation on Wednesday with the signing of 11 agreements in energy, agriculture, culture, education, investment and trade sectors, following talks between Prime Minister Saadeddine al-Othmani and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev is on an official visit to Morocco, along with a number of members of the Russian government, businessmen and senior officials.

“The visit of the Russian prime minister to Morocco falls within a clear will for cooperation, which was initiated by King Mohammed VI’s historic visit to Moscow in March 2016,” Othmani said during the signing ceremony of the partnership agreements.

Othmani explained that trade exchange with Russia has developed since the signing of the trade and economic agreement, which helped increase the volume of trade from around $200 million in 2001 to $2.5 billion in 2015.

In 2013, a new phase was launched between the two countries after the signing of a cooperation agreement in the fishing sector, the Moroccan prime minister noted.

“Economic cooperation between the two countries remains satisfactory, and trade is on an upward path, but there is still work to be done to achieve a more balanced trade relationship between the two countries,” he stated.

Othmani also expressed his country’s readiness to “establish an expanded tripartite partnership between our countries on the one hand, and Africa on the other, engaging the public and private sectors in order to carry out important projects, in favor of the three parties.”

For his part, Medvedev expressed his country’s determination to develop a partnership with Morocco, particularly in the fields of energy, agriculture and tourism, as well as to enhance military and security cooperation.

The Russian official underlined the importance of continuing to supply the Moroccan market with its needs of grains in exchange for the import of fruits and Moroccan vegetables.

Medvedev pointed to the importance of expanding cooperation in the fields of energy technology and tourism, noting that the number of Russian citizens visiting Morocco was on the rise.

Meetings between Russian and Moroccan officials on Wednesday witnessed the signing of 11 bilateral agreements in various fields of cooperation.

OPEC: Higher Demand Forecast for Oil, Points to Tighter Markets in 2018

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries predicted higher demand for its oil in 2018 on Wednesday and said its production-cutting deal with rival producers was getting rid of a glut, pointing to a tighter market that could move into a deficit next year.

In a monthly report, OPEC said the world would need 33.06 million barrels per day (bpd) of its crude next year, up 230,000 bpd from its previous forecast.

“With the market moving into the winter season, distillate fuel supplies are notably tight, representing a change from the excess supplies seen in the last two years,” OPEC said.

“OPEC and key non-OPEC oil producers continue to successfully drain the oil market of excess barrels.”
The report illustrates growing confidence among OPEC officials that its supply cut is working.

In a deal aimed at clearing the glut, OPEC is curbing output by about 1.2 million bpd, while Russia and other non-OPEC producers are cutting half as much, until March 2018.

According to Reuters, the 14-country producer group said its oil output in September, as assessed by secondary sources, came in below the 2018 demand forecast, even though production climbed by about 89,000 bpd to 32.75 million bpd.

In a further sign that the supply excess is easing, OPEC said inventories in developed economies declined by 24.7 million barrels in August to 2.996 billion barrels, 171 million barrels above the five-year average.

OPEC and its allies want to bring stocks down to the five-year average and are discussing extending their supply restraint.

Bahrain: Completion of Oil Pipeline with Saudi Arabia in 2018

Bahrain's Minister of Oil, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa speaks during the opening of the Middle East Petrotech 2016 in Manama

Manama- “A new 350,000-barrels-per-day oil pipeline between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will be completed in 2018 to serve the planned expansion of Bahrain’s refinery capacity while construction of a gas pipeline is being considered,” Bahrain’s Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said.

“Bahrain is in final negotiations with a preferred bidder to expand its only oil refinery and a contract is expected to be awarded before the year-end,” Bahrain’s Oil Minister said in an interview.

He did not identify the bidder, but sources told Reuters in August that a consortium including TechnipFMC, Samsung Engineering and Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas had submitted the lowest bid.

The Kingdom is also building its first liquefied natural gas terminal, which will allow it to import LNG for domestic use.

Saudi Aramco could potentially use the terminal as part of a wider scheme to connect Gulf Arab countries with a gas pipeline, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain signed contracts worth around $300 million to lay a new 350,000-barrel per day (bpd) oil pipeline between the two countries in September 2015.

The pipeline project is built in three phases, with the first phase in Saudi Arabia, the second between the Kingdom and Bahrain and the third one would be inside Bahrain.

The 115-km pipeline will run 42 km offshore and 73 km onshore and will replace the current aging crude oil pipeline. The pipeline will run between Aramco’s Abqaiq plant and Bapco’s Sitra refinery off the coast of Bahrain.

Sheikh Mohammed said Bahrain was talking with Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Co about the possibility of installing an aromatics plant with the refinery expansion.

Any plans to expand the Abu Safa oilfield, which Bahrain shares with Saudi Arabia And is managed by Aramco, will depend on oil markets, but for the time being there are no such plans, he said. Bahrain now produces 200,000 bpd of oil including output from Abu Safa.

Instead, authorities are looking to increase output from Bahrain’s own oilfield by tapping pre-khuff gas, which is gas located in deep deposits, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Saudi Entertainment Authority Vows to Introduce 200,000 Jobs

Jeddah- Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Entertainment vowed to provide some 200,000 job opportunities and to contribute 133 billion dollars to the annual national income by 2030.

In May 2016, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered the formation of the authority in a move that was welcomed by many Saudis who demand more entertainment activities in the country.

More so, the announcement was made amid verification being given by the tourism authority on its sector creating another 300,000 jobs as well.

Dr. Hatem Samman, Executive Director of Strategy at the General Authority for Entertainment, presented a roadmap for the entertainment industry during an opening session of a Jeddah-held forum.

He stressed the importance of building an integrated system of entertainment services across all Saudi cities and regions according to a regulated framework and system of governance, activating and diversifying the role of the private sector.

Samman also pointed that a study covering recreational services provided in 14 Saudi cities has been carried out—research recommendations will help outline the best experiences available in the kingdom and help expand them nationwide.

He also called on the community to be patient with the body’s procedures.

“During this brief period, the Authority has succeeded in playing a pivotal role in organizing the various events in all the cities of the Kingdom, despite the challenges it faces in light of the lack of options for entertainment,” he added.

Secretary General of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hassan Dahlan, who was the forum’s moderator, described the entertainment body as “the joy icon”.

The third session at the entertainment-oriented forum discussed the role of social media in promoting tourism and entertainment.

The fourth session dealt with the role of Jeddah Municipality in the development of the tourism and leisure industry.

SABIC Revamps Board…Appoints Jarboo As Chairman

A man walks past the headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) in Riyadh

Riyadh- Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies, has announced restructuring its board of directors and the end of the term of the chairmanship of Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayan Al Saud.

This came during the Extraordinary General Assembly, which was held at SABIC headquarters in Riyadh on October 8.

During the meeting, the necessary amendments to the Company’s Articles of Association, in accordance with the decision of the Council of Ministers No. 476 dated 27/7/1438H (April 24, 2017), were approved.

The Board also approved candidates for the Board of Directors (government representatives) to complete the current Board session, which began on April 11, 2016.

Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saleh al-Jarboo was elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Yousef bin Abdullah al-Benyan, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, Dr. Fahad bin Abdullah bin Abdullatif al-Mubarak, Calum Mclean, and Roberto Gualdoni as board members.

Speaking at the Extraordinary General Assembly, Prince Saud said, “Our wise leadership has spared no efforts in investing resources in optimal ways. Under this leadership, huge development projects in various regions and sectors were accomplished in order to provide a decent life to Saudi citizens and achieve the security and stability of the Kingdom.”

“SABIC has demonstrated innovation capabilities of Saudi citizens and their determination to translate aspirations into reality,” the Prince added.

Prince Saud pointed out that SABIC’s approach has become a long-standing legacy for generations of SABIC employees, who adopt the same values on which SABIC’s business is based: honesty, transparency, fairness, integrity, inspiration, engagement and creativity.

He added that over the past 15 years he worked as SABIC’s CEO, the company’s journey had witnessed many challenges and achievements, during which “we were able to continue building on the accomplishments of the generations that preceded us.”

In comments on the following day of the meeting, Dr. Jarboo appreciated the SABIC General Assembly’s decision and said he would greatly benefit from the expertise in various areas available in the company.

He hoped to build on the successes achieved by this national symbol of excellence to ensure its continued growth and development.

STC CEO: Redesigning our Strategy, Shifting Away from Traditional Areas

Dubai — Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has depended on a new strategy that focuses on growth via new areas and not the traditional telecommunications areas, said STC CEO Dr. Khalid al-Bayari, adding that this strategy includes the digital content, digital financial services, and the information technology in addition to the limited geography.

Bayari stated that new investments will be centered in the region. “The whole point is that our investments meet with new services,” he said, clarifying that any company that doesn’t adopt the new conditions will face troubles.

On the sidelines of STC participation in GITEX, Bayari told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Our strategy is inspired by the Saudi Vision 2030.” He added that STC works on restructuring skills in which it intends to launch an academy that focuses on building new digital capabilities for the youths. “I think this will have a direct impact on the Saudi Vision 2030,” he noted.

“We have a venture investment fund that is the greatest venture fund in the region and it emphasizes on the new economy, especially that in our region we have a problem in funding the youths who present ideas and projects. I think the fund will fill a gap in this regard and help us find other resources and an additional income for the company” he added.

Further, the company is holding serious discussions to provide financial services through the mobiles.

Back to the strategy, Bayari said: “We deal with the challenges facing the traditional telecommunications sector but STC focused on a growth strategy, which is part of an acquisition of companies operating in specific fields.”

Saudi Arabia Establishes ‘Fund of Funds’ for Small Enterprises

Saudi Arabia Establishes ‘Fund of Funds’ for Small Enterprises

Riyadh- The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced the establishment of the Fund of Funds, a new investment vehicle designed to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to capital by investing in venture capital and private equity funds.

The Fund of Funds will also support the creation of a thriving private equity and venture capital ecosystem in the Kingdom.

The Fund will empower the private sector and increase its contribution to national GDP by encouraging venture capital and private equity investments. With a capital of SAR4 billion, the Fund is aligned with the Saudi Vision 2030 objective of facilitating private sector growth and supporting the development of SMEs in creating job opportunities, promoting innovation, and increasing exports as per the commercial by-laws, to support and encourage investment in SMEs.

The Fund of Funds’ vital role will be reflected in its contributions to national GDP, estimated to be around SAR400 million by the end of 2020, and the provision of more than 2,600 jobs. Its contribution to GDP is expected to increase to SAR8.6 billion by the end of 2027, creating around 58,000 jobs.

The PIF is expected to be one of the most capable global funds to diversify investment tools, and therefore achieve profits and contribute to attaining financial resources to the country’s economy.

The Saudi PIF was established in 1971 to provide financing support for projects of strategic significance to the national economy before it expanded its role to include other aspects.