Morocco Aims to Become Key Player in Green Hydrogen

A picture taken on February 4, 2016 shows an aerial view of the solar mirrors at the Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, some 20km (12.5 miles) outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate, ahead of its inauguration. (AFP)
A picture taken on February 4, 2016 shows an aerial view of the solar mirrors at the Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, some 20km (12.5 miles) outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate, ahead of its inauguration. (AFP)
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Morocco Aims to Become Key Player in Green Hydrogen

A picture taken on February 4, 2016 shows an aerial view of the solar mirrors at the Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, some 20km (12.5 miles) outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate, ahead of its inauguration. (AFP)
A picture taken on February 4, 2016 shows an aerial view of the solar mirrors at the Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, some 20km (12.5 miles) outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate, ahead of its inauguration. (AFP)

Morocco has voiced ambitious plans to become North Africa's top player in the emerging "green hydrogen" sector, with plans to export the clean-burning fuel to Europe.

Hydrogen is seen as a clean energy source that can help the world phase out fossil fuels and reduce atmospheric carbon emissions in the battle to slow global warming.

Morocco, which already runs large solar power plants, also hopes to harness green hydrogen -- the kind made without burning fossil fuels -- for its sizeable fertilizer sector.

Around 1.5 million acres (6,000 square kilometers) of public land -- nearly the size of Kuwait -- have been set aside for green hydrogen and ammonia plants, the economy ministry says.

King Mohammed VI has hailed a national green hydrogen plan dubbed l'Offre Maroc (the Moroccan Offer) and called for its "rapid and qualitative implementation".

Speaking in July, before the country's earthquake disaster, he said Morocco must take advantage of "the projects supported by international investors in this promising sector".

Local media have reported about investment plans by Australian, British, French, German and Indian companies.

Fertilizer sales

Hydrogen can be extracted from water by passing a strong electrical current through it.

This separates the hydrogen from the oxygen, a process called electrolysis.

If the power used is clean -- such as solar or wind -- the fuel is called "green hydrogen", which is itself emission-free when burnt.

But there are problems: hydrogen is highly explosive and hard to store and transport. This has set back hydrogen fuel cell cars in the race against electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries.

However, experts say green hydrogen also has a big role to play in decarbonizing energy-intensive industries that cannot easily be electrified such as steel, cement and chemicals.

Powering blast furnaces with hydrogen, for example, offers the promise of making "green steel".

Hydrogen can also be converted into ammonia, to store the energy or as a major input in synthetic fertilizers.

Morocco is already a major player in the global fertilizer market, thanks mainly to its immense phosphate reserves.

It profited after fertilizer shortages sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent prices up to 1,000 euros ($1,060) per ton.

Morocco's state Phosphate Office has announced plans to quickly produce a million tons of "green ammonia" from green hydrogen and triple the amount by 2032.

Solar power

Analysts caution that Morocco still has some way to go with its ambitious green fertilizer plans.

The sector is "embryonic and the large global projects will not see the light of day until three to five years from now", said Samir Rachidi, director of the Moroccan research institute IRESEN.

Morocco's advantage is that it has already bet heavily on clean energy over the past 15 years.

Solar, wind and other clean energy make up 38 percent of production, and the goal is to reach 52 percent by 2030.

For now green hydrogen is more expensive than the highly polluting "brown hydrogen" made using coal or "grey hydrogen" produced from natural gas.

The goal is to keep green hydrogen production below $1-$2 per kilogram, Ahmed Reda Chami, president of the Economic, Social and Environmental Counsel, told the weekly La Vie Eco.

Rachidi of IRESEN said water-scarce Morocco must also step up the desalination of seawater for the process.

It must build "an industrial value chain which begins with seawater desalinization plants for electrolysis, electricity storage, to transportation and hydrogen marketing", he said.

Already hit by droughts that threaten its farm sector, Morocco has announced plans to add seven desalinization plants to its 12 existing facilities.

Regional contest

Morocco is competing on green hydrogen with other regional countries from Egypt to Mauritania.

Business consultants Deloitte have predicted that North Africa will be the world's largest green hydrogen-exporting region by 2050, reshuffling the global energy cards.

Algeria, a major fossil fuel exporter, can capitalize on "one of the most important potentials in the world" in terms of solar and wind energy and gas pipeline infrastructure, said Rabah Sellami, director of its Renewable Energies Commission.

Currently, Algeria produces only three percent of its electricity through renewables, but is investing heavily to boost capacity.

Algeria has numerous desalinization plants whose capacity is set to more than double to two billion cubic meters (about 70 billion cubic feet) in 2030.

Its roadmap for green hydrogen targets "production of one million tons for export to the European market" and 250,000 tons for domestic consumption, said Sellami.

Tunisia also wants to enter the fray, provided it can build up its renewables production, said its energy ministry's general director Belhassen Chiboub.

It hopes to grow clean power output from three percent now to 35 percent by 2030.

If it meets that target, Chiboub predicted, "it will be able to export between 5.5 and six million tons of green hydrogen to Europe by 2050".



Al-Swaha Meets with CEO of Google, Alphabet to Support Growth of Digital Economy

Al-Swaha met with the CEO of Google and Alphabet in Silicon Valley. SPA
Al-Swaha met with the CEO of Google and Alphabet in Silicon Valley. SPA
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Al-Swaha Meets with CEO of Google, Alphabet to Support Growth of Digital Economy

Al-Swaha met with the CEO of Google and Alphabet in Silicon Valley. SPA
Al-Swaha met with the CEO of Google and Alphabet in Silicon Valley. SPA

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology (CIT) Eng. Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha met in Silicon Valley in California on Friday with the CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, and a number of senior executives to expand the strategic partnership in the field of cloud computing, innovation and capacity development.

According to an official report, released by the ministry of CIT in Riyadh, the two sides discussed areas of common interest and deepening the strategic partnership in the field of cloud computing to enhance the growth of the digital economy and entrepreneurship and provide a pioneering generation in the field of technology and innovation to contribute to accelerating the digital transformation journey in the Kingdom.

Al-Swaha also met with the CEO of Intel to discuss the partnership and develop research in network technologies and artificial intelligence solutions to contribute to enriching innovative solutions and building a digital economy based on innovation and technology.


China's Leaders Pledge to Spur Domestic Demand, Economic Recovery

FILE PHOTO: A traveller is seen with his belongings at a railway station, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A traveller is seen with his belongings at a railway station, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
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China's Leaders Pledge to Spur Domestic Demand, Economic Recovery

FILE PHOTO: A traveller is seen with his belongings at a railway station, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A traveller is seen with his belongings at a railway station, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

China will spur domestic demand and consolidate and enhance the economic recovery in 2024, the Politburo, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party, was quoted by state media as saying on Friday.
The government has in recent months unveiled a flurry of measures to shore up a feeble post-pandemic economic recovery that has been held back by a property crisis, local government debt risks, slow global growth and geopolitical tensions.
Ratings agency Moody's slapped a downgrade warning on China's credit rating on Tuesday, saying costs to bail out debt-laden local governments and state firms and control its property crisis would weigh on the growth outlook of the world's second-largest economy.
According to Reuters, analysts believe the government will have to unveil more stimulus to support the economy, which still faces headwinds.
China will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy, which will be moderately strengthened, and implement a prudent monetary policy, which will be "flexible, moderate, precise, and effective", state media quoted the Politburo as saying.
The meeting, which was chaired by President Xi Jinping, also said the country will enhance the consistency of macroeconomic policies, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
China will "effectively enhance economic vitality, prevent and resolve risks, improve social expectations, consolidate and enhance the positive trend of economic recovery, continue to promote the effective improvement of quality and reasonable growth of the economy," Xinhua said.
"Efforts should be made to expand domestic demand and form a virtuous cycle of mutually promoting consumption and investment. We need to deepen reforms in key areas and continuously inject strong impetus into high-quality development."
President Xi said in a meeting with non-Communist Party representatives held on Wednesday that the country's economic recovery is still at a critical stage, Xinhua said in a separate report on Friday.
Most analysts believe China's growth is on track to hit the government's target of around 5% this year, but that compares with a COVID-weakened 2022 and activity remains uneven. The Politburo's meeting on economic work is usually a prelude to the annual agenda-setting Central Economic Work Conference, which is expected to be held around mid-December.
China's government advisers will recommend a steady growth target for 2024 and more stimulus to the policymakers' meeting.
"There is no doubt fiscal policy will take a leading role in 2024," said Bruce Pang, chief economist at Jones Lang Lasalle.
Analysts at UBS expect China to set a fiscal deficit target of 3.5%-3.8% of gross domestic product, and a special local government bond quota of around 4 trillion yuan ($560 billion) for 2024, versus this year's 3.8 trillion yuan.
The government has launched a slew of policy measures in recent months to shore up a feeble post-pandemic economic recovery impacted by a property crisis, local government debt risks, slow global growth and geopolitical tensions.
The central bank has delivered modest interest rate cuts and pumped out more cash in recent months to support growth.
In October, China unveiled a plan to issue 1 trillion yuan in sovereign bonds by the end of the year, raising the 2023 budget deficit target to 3.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) from the original 3%.
The Politburo also studied plans for anti-corruption work and reviewed regulations on party disciplinary action, Xinhua said.


Gold Heads for First Weekly Drop in Four Weeks ahead of US Jobs Data

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
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Gold Heads for First Weekly Drop in Four Weeks ahead of US Jobs Data

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo

Gold was on track for its first weekly fall in four weeks after the dollar firmed, although prices held steady on Friday as markets looked ahead to key US jobs data to gauge the chance of a rate cut by the Federal Reserve as early as March.
Spot gold edged 0.1% higher to $2,030.32 per ounce by 0750 GMT. Bullion, however, has fallen nearly 2% for the week so far. US gold futures were steady at $2,047.10.
Bullion scaled an all-time peak of $2,135.40 on Monday on elevated bets for a rate cut by the Fed, before dropping more than $100 on uncertainty over the cut's timing, Reuters reported.
The dollar index was on track to snap a three-week losing streak, making greenback-priced gold more expensive for other currency holders.
Gold remains well-supported above $2,006 per ounce level, but stronger-than-expected payrolls data could put this support level in jeopardy, said Kelvin Wong, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA.
Data this week suggested that the US labor market was gradually losing momentum as higher borrowing costs curb demand in the broader economy.
The US non-farm payrolls report for November is due at 1330 GMT, which should show that employers added 180,000 jobs last month.
Markets are pricing in a 60% chance of a US rate cut as soon as March, CME's FedWatch Tool showed, but a Reuters poll saw rates unchanged until at least July.
Lower interest rates tend to support non-interest-bearing bullion.
"Outlook remains very bright for gold. Expect prices to remain in the range of $2,005 and on the upside it can test $2,080 in the near-term," said Kunal Shah, head of research at Nirmal Bang Commodities in Mumbai.
Spot silver rose 0.1% to $23.81 per ounce, while platinum gained 0.9% to $915.19 and palladium inched 0.6% higher to $975.20 per ounce.


Al-Rumayyan: PIF Analyzes Global Trends Before Investments

A group photo at the opening ceremony of the FII PRIORITY Summit Hong Kong (PIF)
A group photo at the opening ceremony of the FII PRIORITY Summit Hong Kong (PIF)
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Al-Rumayyan: PIF Analyzes Global Trends Before Investments

A group photo at the opening ceremony of the FII PRIORITY Summit Hong Kong (PIF)
A group photo at the opening ceremony of the FII PRIORITY Summit Hong Kong (PIF)

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Chairman of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute, emphasized that the Fund's strategy hinges on a thorough understanding of needs, global trends, and emerging directions.

Al-Rumayyan highlighted the importance of aligning these factors in the most effective manner.

This involves a thorough examination of business and financial feasibility before making any investments.

Al-Rumayyan made these remarks during a panel discussion on humanitarian priorities at the FII PRIORITY Summit Hong Kong which brought together global investors, innovators and policymakers to tackle technology, climate, and economic threats.

The two-day summit was organized by the Hong Kong government, its stock exchange and the FII Institute— a nonprofit founded by PIF.

Al-Rumayyan discussed the impact of global trends on PIF’s investments.

He highlighted the expected economic growth in Asia this year, approximately 4.6%, contributing 52% to global economic growth.

Al-Rumayyan added, “43% of funding for startups, 51% of technological expenses, and 88% of patent applications all come from Asia.”

Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, known as Vision 2030, aims to diversify the country’s economy beyond reliance on energy, reaffirmed Al-Rumayyan.

On his part, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee called the summit “yet another significant step forward, in the deepening (of) ties between Hong Kong and the Middle East, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He described Hong Kong as one of the most competitive and free economies globally, acting as a major international financial center.

Lee noted that around a thousand fintech companies are currently operating in Hong Kong, a 25% increase from the previous year.

Moreover, Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, stated that both Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia serve as “vital connectors” for people from diverse cultures and markets.

Attias praised Hong Kong as the gateway to Asia, citing its simple and low-tax system and robust legal framework.

Laura Cha, chair of the Hong Kong stock exchange, emphasized the increasing need for global communication.

“The world needs connection now more than ever,” she said.

Cha anticipated stronger relationships between the Middle East, mainland China, and Hong Kong throughout the event.

“Only by working together can we progress and overcome the most pressing challenges facing our generation,” she said.

The summit was attended by around a thousand investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers from around the world, with over 100 speakers, including industry leaders, government officials, and academics.

Discussions focused on rapidly changing priorities in the social, economic, and geopolitical landscape.


Saudi Ministers Affirm Commitment to Economic Diversification

Saudi ministers of finance and economy attend the first dialogue session of the Budget 2024 Forum, titled “Sustainable Finance” in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi ministers of finance and economy attend the first dialogue session of the Budget 2024 Forum, titled “Sustainable Finance” in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Ministers Affirm Commitment to Economic Diversification

Saudi ministers of finance and economy attend the first dialogue session of the Budget 2024 Forum, titled “Sustainable Finance” in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi ministers of finance and economy attend the first dialogue session of the Budget 2024 Forum, titled “Sustainable Finance” in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi Minister of Finance asserted on Thursday that since its initiation in 2016, the national transformation plan of the Kingdom, known as Vision 2030, has incorporated a diverse range of sectoral and regional strategies.

“These strategies include a large number of projects and the Kingdom has been conducting a comprehensive review of all these strategies over the last two years,” said Mohammed Al-Jadaan.

“We are currently halfway through the Vision,” he added, underlining the need for the optimum utilization of the limited revenues and resources so as to achieve the greatest economic return.

Al-Jadaan highlighted the focus of Vision 2030 on economic diversification, particularly on non-oil domestic products, with a targeted range of approximately 18%-21%.

The minister stressed that the range should not be exceeded, otherwise it will be a burden on the economy.

Addressing the first dialogue session of the Budget 2024 Forum, titled “Sustainable Finance” in Riyadh, Al-Jadaan discussed the concept of financial capacity in local debt markets and its considerations with the private sector.

“In its borrowing endeavors, the Kingdom takes into account the needs of the private sector, considering their access to financing in banks for small and medium-sized enterprises, consumer loans, and providing financial support,” noted the minister.

He highlighted the global market, international loans, and the allocation of approximate amounts for each country based on risk diversification, economic strength, credit rating, pointing to indicators such as debt service to the gross domestic product (GDP) and non-oil GDP, emphasizing financial sustainability.

On his part, Minister of Economy Faisal Al-Ibrahim affirmed that Saudi Arabia seeks to achieve optimal economic diversification.

Al-Ibrahim also confirmed that many targets of Vision 2030 have been realized.

The institutional capacities of government entities, coupled with their collaboration with other sectors, have become well-established and of high quality, added Al-Ibrahim.

He pointed out that exports of services rose to SAR135 billion currently, compared to SAR65 billion in 2016, which contributed to improving the Kingdom’s trade balance.

The contribution of non-oil revenues to covering costs jumped from 19 percent to 35 percent, which is due to the basic growth of the non-oil economy, said Al-Ibrahim while noting that unemployment rates continue to decline systematically.

Al-Ibrahim said that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 created a fertile environment for economic diversification, building national capabilities and raising the efficiency of government institutions, in addition to improving the trade balance.

He underlined the need to support the private sector to reach the government target.

The minister also stressed that all sectoral strategies and mega projects aimed to enable the private sector to exploit available opportunities and grow to respond to demand within the Kingdom and also compete with other producers outside Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Commerce Minister Discusses Role of Digital Economy in Shaping Global Trade Future

Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi participated in a high-level ministerial session on e-commerce held on the sidelines of the UNCTAD eWeek 2023. SPA
Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi participated in a high-level ministerial session on e-commerce held on the sidelines of the UNCTAD eWeek 2023. SPA
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Saudi Commerce Minister Discusses Role of Digital Economy in Shaping Global Trade Future

Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi participated in a high-level ministerial session on e-commerce held on the sidelines of the UNCTAD eWeek 2023. SPA
Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi participated in a high-level ministerial session on e-commerce held on the sidelines of the UNCTAD eWeek 2023. SPA

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Competitiveness Center (NCC) Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi has highlighted the Kingdom's efforts to diversify its economy and prioritize emerging sectors, noting that non-oil exports of the Kingdom grew 77% from 2016 to 2022.

During his participation in a high-level ministerial session on e-commerce held on the sidelines of the UNCTAD eWeek 2023, organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, he noted that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is very open to international trade, as the volume of international trade has risen to $7.7 trillion last year.

He emphasized that digitization has transformed trade, making it more efficient, reliable, and transparent. He said the Kingdom is keeping pace with the trend through economic reforms and modernizing infrastructure, and the focus is shifting towards the digital economy and enhancing the knowledge-based economy.

Concerning the Kingdom's perspective on regional trade and free-trade agreements, the minister said they have advantages, such as enhancing intra-trade and the security of the supply chain.

However, he expressed his concerns about the trend towards regionalization at a time when the world faces global challenges such as climate change, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and other issues that require international consensus. Global trade governance is necessary to guarantee pluralism and sound practices, he said.

Al-Qasabi met with representatives of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and discussed the latest developments in the agreement that the NCC signed in September with the WEF.

The agreement aims to facilitate and develop services trade in the Kingdom and raise its competitiveness in global markets. He also met with Professor Richard Baldwin, an economist at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).


COP28 Concludes 1st Week amid Expectations for Agreements

Expo City in the Emirate of Dubai, where the COP 28 conference is being held. (EPA)
Expo City in the Emirate of Dubai, where the COP 28 conference is being held. (EPA)
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COP28 Concludes 1st Week amid Expectations for Agreements

Expo City in the Emirate of Dubai, where the COP 28 conference is being held. (EPA)
Expo City in the Emirate of Dubai, where the COP 28 conference is being held. (EPA)

At the end of the first week of the COP28 conference held in Dubai, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, on Wednesday, called on the countries participating in the talks to raise the bar of ambitions and reach clear agreements at the conclusion of the conference.
“All governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders. We need highest ambition, not point-scoring or lowest common denominator politics,” he told a news conference.
According to information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat from the corridors of the conference, the work now falls on the state commissioners to put all the proposals on the table, before submitting them to officials and ministers, who are expected to reach an agreement at the conclusion of the conference.
For his part, Saudi climate negotiator Khaled Al-Muhaid said in a session on Tuesday evening that the 2015 Paris Agreement “was a great success for all of us”, adding that the “challenge now is how to keep all passengers on the train.”
The latest draft of a global climate agreement presented three options regarding the future of fuel. Sources at the conference indicated that all of the three decisions have good views, with varying rates of acceptance and adoption, but still close in proportion to each other.
“At the end of next week, we need COP to deliver a bullet train to speed up climate action. We currently have an old caboose chugging over rickety tracks,” Stiell told the reporters.
The heated deliberations coincided with climate reports confirming that the year 2023 was the hottest in history, and that November witnessed the warmest autumn in the world ever.
The head of the United Nations Development Program, Achim Steiner, urged countries participating in COP28 not to criticize any side at the conference, saying that Western countries are also sitting in a glass house with regard to oil production.
He pointed in this regard to the United States, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom, all of which he said wanted to expand their oil production.

 


Saudi Crown Prince, Putin Urge All OPEC+ Countries to Join Output Deal

This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) walking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in the capital Riyadh on December 6, 2023. (Photo by SPA / AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) walking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in the capital Riyadh on December 6, 2023. (Photo by SPA / AFP)
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Saudi Crown Prince, Putin Urge All OPEC+ Countries to Join Output Deal

This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) walking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in the capital Riyadh on December 6, 2023. (Photo by SPA / AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) walking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in the capital Riyadh on December 6, 2023. (Photo by SPA / AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Russian President Vladimir Putin have commended the close cooperation between them and the successful efforts of the OPEC+ countries in enhancing the stability of global oil markets.

A joint statement said Thursday that they stressed the importance of continuing this cooperation, and the need for all participating countries to adhere to the OPEC+ agreement, in a way that serves the interests of producers and consumers and supports the growth of the global economy.

Following last week's OPEC+ meeting, Saudi Arabia agreed to extend voluntary oil output cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) into the first quarter, while Russia said it would continue to curb oil exports by 300,000 bpd and additionally reduce its fuel exports by 200,000 bpd in January-March.
The total curbs amount to 2.2 million bpd from eight producers, OPEC said in a statement after the meeting last week.

The Crown Prince and Putin met at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh on Wednesday.

They praised the increase in the volume of trade between the two countries, as the volume of bilateral trade in the year 2022 increased at a rate of 46% compared to the year 2021.

They affirmed their intention to continue the joint work to enhance and diversify trade between them, and to intensify communication between the private sectors in the two countries to discuss promising trade and investment opportunities and transform them into active partnerships.

The two sides also stressed their keenness to continue working to enhance mutual and joint investments in the two countries, enable the private sector, exchange visits, hold joint investment forums and events, develop the investment-attractive environment, provide the necessary enablers, and solve any challenges in this field.

The joint statement said that Putin welcomed the Kingdom’s launch of the “Saudi Green Initiative” and the “Middle East Green initiative” and affirmed Russia's support for the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of climate change by implementing the circular carbon economy approach launched by the Kingdom and approved by the leaders of the G20 countries.

The two sides stressed the importance of adhering to the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and the necessity of developing and implementing climate agreements by focusing on emissions rather than sources.

They also expressed their desire to maximize the use of local content in energy sector projects, cooperate to stimulate innovation, apply emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence in the energy sector, and develop its ecosystem.


Oil Rebounds from 6-month-low

FILE PHOTO: A tanker truck used to haul oil products operates at an oil facility near Brooks, Alberta, Canada April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A tanker truck used to haul oil products operates at an oil facility near Brooks, Alberta, Canada April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
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Oil Rebounds from 6-month-low

FILE PHOTO: A tanker truck used to haul oil products operates at an oil facility near Brooks, Alberta, Canada April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A tanker truck used to haul oil products operates at an oil facility near Brooks, Alberta, Canada April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo

Oil prices reclaimed some ground on Thursday after tumbling to a six-month low in the previous session but investors remained concerned about sluggish demand and economic slowdowns in the US and China.

Brent crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.4%, to $74.56 a barrel by 0613 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 24 cents, also 0.4%, to $69.62 a barrel.

"Oil markets may have been oversold," which could mean the recovery is a "short-term rebound", Tina Teng, a markets analyst with CMC Markets, said in a note.

In the previous session, the market was spooked by data showing US output remains near record highs even though inventories fell, analysts at ANZ said in a note.

Some of the bearishness was also a result of higher product fuel inventories, the ANZ analysts said.

Gasoline stocks rose by 5.4 million barrels in the week to 223.6 million barrels, the EIA said on Wednesday, far exceeding expectations for a 1 million-barrel build.

Oil prices have fallen by about 10% since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, announced a combined 2.2 million barrels per day voluntary output cuts.

A Reuters survey found that OPEC oil output fell in November in the first monthly drop since July, as a result of lower shipments by Nigeria and Iraq as well as ongoing market-supporting cuts by Saudi Arabia and other members of the wider OPEC+ alliance.


Saudi 2024 Budget: 1.172 Trillion Riyals in Revenues

The Saudi Cabinet approves the 2024 budget (SPA)
The Saudi Cabinet approves the 2024 budget (SPA)
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Saudi 2024 Budget: 1.172 Trillion Riyals in Revenues

The Saudi Cabinet approves the 2024 budget (SPA)
The Saudi Cabinet approves the 2024 budget (SPA)

The Saudi government, in a meeting chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday, approved the Kingdom’s 2024 budget.

While next year’s revenues are estimated at SAR 1.172 trillion, total expenditure is projected at SAR1.251 trillion, resulting in a limited deficit of SAR79 billion.

After the budget’s approval, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted the achievements of the Kingdom since the launch of its national transformation plan “Vision 2030.”

He commended the government’s ongoing structural reforms in both the financial and economic realms, aiming to sustain economic growth in light of the substantial developmental opportunities and resources available to the Kingdom within the framework of Vision 2030.

This strategic vision, guided by the directives of King Salman, has notably contributed to the clear and significant increase in the non-oil sector’s contribution to Saudi Arabia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Crown Prince emphasized the government's commitment, as reflected in the fiscal year 2024 budget, to stimulate economic growth through an expansion of government spending.

He clarified that the budget figures serve as a supportive framework for numerous programs and initiatives, encompassing investments to enhance infrastructure, improve the quality of services provided to citizens, residents, and visitors.

Additionally, the budget allocates resources for the development of promising economic sectors, fostering investment attraction, stimulating industries, increasing local content, and boosting non-oil Saudi exports.

He commended the pivotal role played by both the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the National Development Fund (NDF).

The Crown Prince also affirmed the ongoing efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s public financial performance by increasing financial capacity and building government reserves.

This approach aims to strengthen the Kingdom’s economic resilience, maintain sustainable levels of public debt, and empower the nation to confront any future developments or crises.

Furthermore, he stressed that the increase in spending is primarily driven by the government’s commitment to continually improve the level of public services.

The implementation of various projects and the expansion of spending on sectoral and regional development strategies aim to bring about positive structural changes, expanding and diversifying the economic base.

The Crown Prince also emphasized the development of partnerships with the private sector, aiming to empower and incentivize it to play a role in achieving economic diversification.

This strategic approach seeks to enable the labor market to absorb more Saudi workers, create job opportunities, and reduce unemployment rates among Saudis.

The total number of Saudis in the workforce has risen to 2.3 million this year.

Additionally, there is a focus on improving the investment environment to make it attractive, thereby increasing both local and foreign investment, fostering non-oil exports, and enhancing the non-oil trade balance.

The Crown Prince further elaborated on the ongoing journey towards economic diversification by supporting promising sectors.

The Kingdom aims to increase tourism targets to 150 million visitors, both domestic and international, by 2030. Efforts also include building a vibrant sports sector.

The commitment to developing the industrial sector, a vital component of the Saudi economy, was emphasized as well.

This involves diversifying the industrial base and value chains. The goal is to triple the industrial GDP to SAR 895 billion by 2030, making a significant contribution to the development of non-oil exports.

The PIF, as a key investment arm, complements government efforts to diversify the economy, along with the pivotal role played by the NDF and its affiliated funds in providing easy financing for the private sector.

Addressing the Kingdom’s regional and international role, the Crown Prince affirmed its commitment to global security and stability, recognizing them as essential factors for development and prosperity.

The Kingdom is dedicated to enhancing supply and value chains to serve the economic development of all countries globally.

The Crown Prince reaffirmed the Kingdom’s determination to continue enhancing its economic attractiveness for both local and foreign investments in the coming year.