ENGIE: We Are Working with Saudi Arabia to Transition to Carbon-Neutral Economy

ENGIE CEO Catherine MacGregor (Asharq Al-Awsat)
ENGIE CEO Catherine MacGregor (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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ENGIE: We Are Working with Saudi Arabia to Transition to Carbon-Neutral Economy

ENGIE CEO Catherine MacGregor (Asharq Al-Awsat)
ENGIE CEO Catherine MacGregor (Asharq Al-Awsat)

ENGIE CEO Catherine MacGregor affirmed that her company’s work in Saudi Arabia aligns with the Kingdom’s national transformation plan, Vision 2030, and its focus on accelerating the transition to a carbon-neutral economy.

MacGregor pointed out that ENGIE, since the start of its business in Saudi Arabia more than two decades ago, has harnessed its expertise in the field of providing energy services solutions with low carbon emissions.

ENGIE has cooperated with Saudi authorities to develop and implement a range of energy projects that operate on gas, renewable energy, production, storage, distribution, green hydrogen, seawater desalination and district cooling. The company has also helped manage high-value-added facilities.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which recently concluded its activities in Riyadh, MacGregor emphasized ENGIE’s commitment to Saudi Arabia.

This is demonstrated through ENGIE working closely with its partners to provide new job opportunities in the short term and promote long-term development in the Kingdom.

As part of its commitment to building a more sustainable and prosperous future for the Saudi people, the company is constantly looking to cooperate with the leadership in the Kingdom to achieve greater successes.

- Company Strategy

“Since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the world has witnessed unprecedented developments and fundamental changes in the field of energy,” noted MacGregor when talking about ENGIE’s strategy for the upcoming period.

“Therefore, ENGIE should play an active role in the development and innovation of future energy systems, which ensure the protection of the supply chain, the containment of energy costs and the acceleration of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy in the near future,” she added.

She pointed out that ENGIE’s active role is in line with the company strategy announced 18 months ago.

MacGregor highlighted that ENGIE, in the grand transformation journey, focused its business and strategic priorities on accelerating the energy transformation process. It also set ambitious plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

“On the path towards achieving these goals, ENGIE will focus on enhancing and increasing the production of renewable energy from 36 GW currently to 80 GW in 2030,” MacGregor affirmed.

“Moreover, ENGIE continues to work on developing the field of energy solutions by providing support to its customers in their journey towards decarbonization,” she added.

- The importance of the Middle East

“ENGIE’s presence in the Middle East dates to nearly three decades ago. It has a total capacity to generate 30 GW of energy, in addition to 8 plants using reverse osmosis technology to provide the water needs of 10.6 million people daily,” noted MacGregor.

“ENGIE works with its partners in the Middle East to support countries, cities and companies by designing and developing innovative and energy-saving solutions,” she added.

“Green hydrogen is one of ENGIE's focuses and the primary tool for accelerating the transition to clean energy.”

ENGIE and Masdar had signed a strategic alliance agreement to explore the co-development of a UAE-based green hydrogen hub. The two companies are looking to develop projects with a capacity of at least 2 GW by 2030, with a total investment in the region of $5 billion.

“The company, alongside Masdar, signed an agreement with Fertiglobe this year to participate in the development of a green hydrogen production plant in the UAE, which is expected to be commercially operational in 2025, with a production capacity of 200 MW,” reminded MacGregor.

Fertiglobe are already part of a consortium developing a new build, million-ton-per-year blue ammonia plant in UAE’s al-Ruwais.

- Russian Gas Alternatives

Talking about alternatives to Russian gas and how to balance cost and demand, MacGregor said: “In 2021, Russia accounted for about 20% of the group’s gas sales and consumption in the world, but this number has fallen to nearly zero now.”

“ENGIE has made unremitting efforts over the past months to diversify its gas supply sources, and was able to obtain additional capacity from Norway or the US, taking advantage of the efficient infrastructure in Europe in general, and France in particular, to import liquefied natural gas.”

MacGregor noted the need for addressing global price hikes triggered by current crises in the short term.

“Economic activity in Asia, especially in China, has not fully recovered from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic yet, so the world will witness a significant increase in demand when the situation improves.”

“This will lead to a change in balance. Urgency will appear at the global level to rethink supply chains and the importance of diversifying them,” explained MacGregor.

- New Energy Sector

MacGregor confirmed that the current crisis, which followed the coronavirus pandemic, has exposed the weaknesses of the incumbent system. It also shed light on the importance of energy, the need for affordable prices, and a necessity for reducing the carbon footprint.

“There is a need to use this crisis to accelerate the transition to clean energy. I also believe that we have an individual and collective responsibility to confront confusion in the energy system and global warming, and to enhance consumer behavior.”

“I am confident ENGIE's position as a global leader in the energy transition is what motivates our employees around the world,” said MacGregor about the future of her company in light of the different challenges facing the world economy.

“After refocusing on our core business, we will leverage all our resources to achieve the ambitious growth targets that have been set,” she affirmed.



FAO Official: Gulf States Shielded Themselves from Major Shocks

 David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
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FAO Official: Gulf States Shielded Themselves from Major Shocks

 David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told Asharq al-Awsat that global hunger increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the GCC countries were able to shield themselves from major shocks affecting food security.
Laborde added that global hunger affected over 152 million people, with no improvement in the past two years.
Today, 733 million people suffer from chronic hunger, and 2.3 billion face food insecurity, according to the UN annual report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.”

Laborde explained that the global economic crisis has worsened food insecurity, keeping hunger levels high.
Alongside this, climate shocks and conflicts are major causes of hunger. He also pointed out that food insecurity is closely tied to inequality, and the economic crisis, rising living costs, and high interest rates are deepening existing inequalities both within and between countries.
On whether economic diversification in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is boosting food security, Laborde said: “A move towards a more diversified economy and enhancing the ability to rely on various sources of food supplies are key drivers of food security resilience and stability.”
“GCC countries have managed to shield themselves from major shocks, primarily due to their high income levels and ability to cover import costs without difficulty,” he explained.
Regarding the FAO’s outlook on reducing global hunger, Laborde insisted that ending hunger will require a significant increase in funding.
When asked for suggestions on how governments could enhance food security, Laborde said: “Despite global figures remaining stable, improvements are seen in Asia and Latin America, showing that the right policies and conditions can reduce numbers.”
“Hunger is not inevitable. Investing in social safety nets to protect the poor, along with making structural changes to food systems to be more environmentally friendly, resilient, and equitable, is the right path forward,” emphasized Laborde.
The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, published on Wednesday, said about 733 million people faced hunger in 2023 – one in 11 people globally and one in five in Africa.
Hunger and food insecurity present critical challenges affecting millions globally.
The annual report, released this year during the G20 Global Alliance for Hunger and Poverty Task Force ministerial meeting in Brazil, warns that the world is significantly lagging in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2—ending hunger by 2030.
It highlights that global progress has regressed by 15 years, with malnutrition levels comparable to those seen in 2008-2009.
Despite some progress in areas like stunting and exclusive breastfeeding, a troubling number of people still face food insecurity and malnutrition, with global hunger levels rising.