Monthly briefing: 20 key developments in the region25 October 2022
By MEED staff
> Opec and its allies cut oil output
> Saipem wins $4.5bn North Field offshore gas contract
> Qatar to inaugurate 800MW solar farm
> Lebanon and Israel agree maritime border deal
> Aramco launches SME stimulator programme
> Region to be third-largest hydrogen source by 2050
> Egypt ready to supply natural gas to Lebanon
> Riyadh makes debt announcements
> Neom hydrogen project expected to close by year-end
> Abu Dhabi transfers ownership of Etihad Airways to ADQ
> Mipco secures $4bn to refinance Abu Dhabi plant
OIL OUTPUT CUTS
The Opec+ alliance of oil producers has decided to reduce oil production by 2 million barrels a day (b/d) from November to further shore up crude prices, which have fluctuated amid fears that a global recession could curb oil demand.
The decision, which was led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, was taken at a meeting of the group in Austria on 5 October.
The move represents a major reversal in production policy for Opec+, which slashed output by a record 10 million b/d in early 2020 when demand plummeted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, the group has gradually unwound those cuts. Read more
The 33rd Opec and non-Opec ministerial meeting on 5 October. Credit: Opec
Saudi Arabia and UAE condemn US warning of ‘consequences’
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have rejected as baseless accusations that the Opec+ decision to reduce oil production from November was politically motivated against the US.
Riyadh has insisted decisions by Opec and its allies were taken “purely on economic considerations”, and said its economic advice had been to resist calls to delay the production cut.
The UAE issued a statement calling upon the US to refrain from “politicisation” of the Opec+ decision. US President Joe Biden had previously warned that there would be “consequences” for Saudi Arabia and the Opec+ members for their decision to cut oil output.
World leaders to gather for meeting on climate change
Leaders from almost 200 countries will meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 6-18 November for the UN’s 27th Conference of the Parties (Cop 27) climate change summit.
Egypt’s International Cooperation Minister, Rania al-Mashat, has previously said that the focus of Cop 27 should be moving from “pledges to implementation”. The conference aims to deliver action on issues critical to tackling the climate emergency, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, to delivering on the commitments to finance climate action in developing countries.
Region could lead global steel decarbonisation efforts
As the global steel industry considers switching to direct reduced iron (DRI) production, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is primed to start producing carbon-neutral steel, according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.
“The Mena region can lead the world if it shifts promptly to renewables and applies green hydrogen in its steel sector,” says Soroush Basirat, the author of the report.
“The region’s steel sector is dominated by direct reduced iron-electric arc furnace technology, which releases lower emissions than the … coal-fuelled blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace process used in 71 per cent of global crude steel production in 2021.”
The Mena region produced just 3 per cent of global crude steel last year, but accounted for nearly 46 per cent of the world’s DRI production.
Basirat adds: “Mena has an established supply of DR-grade iron ore and its iron ore pelletising plants are among the world’s largest.”
Riyadh announces government spending increase in 2022-24
Saudi Arabia has announced increases in government spending in 2022-24 of more than 18 per cent, which is close to SR175bn ($47bn) or 4 to 4.5 per cent of GDP.
The rise in spending targets points to smaller fiscal surpluses in the coming years, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Increased spending could contribute to reducing the kingdom’s economic reliance on hydrocarbons, provided the spending is successfully deployed to advance government-sponsored diversification projects.
Prime minister-designate vows to act against corruption
Iraq’s prime minister-designate Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has pledged to take action against corruption after authorities announced that ID3.7tn ($2.5bn) had been embezzled from the General Tax Authority’s trust account held by a branch of Rafidain Bank.
The Iraqi Integrity Commission has said it is opening an investigation into the theft
On 13 October, Iraq’s parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s new president. He then tasked Al-Sudani with forming a new government to end a year of political gridlock.
Al-Sudani faces a challenge in the coming weeks as he attempts to appoint a new cabinet of ministers. Members of the Iraqi political bloc led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have said that they will not join the new government.
Houthi rebels attack oil terminal in southern Yemen
Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for an attack on a cargo ship at an oil terminal in the south of the country on 21 October. The group said the attack by explosives-laden drones was meant to prevent pro-government forces from using the Al-Dhabba terminal for oil exports.
The incident occurred in Ash-Shihr in the Hadramawt governorate, and targeted the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Nissos Kea. The Greek owners of the tanker said it was undamaged.
The internationally recognised government of Yemen said that its forces had intercepted armed drones launched against the Al-Dhabba oil terminal.
UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, called the attack a “deeply worrying military escalation”. The Yemeni government sent a letter to the UN Security Council regarding the “threat to disrupt international maritime navigation and target ships and oil infrastructures”.
The attack was the first military action announced by the Houthis since a truce between Yemen’s warring sides expired on 2 October.
Lebanon and Israel have forged a deal to end a long-running maritime border dispute in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon’s deputy speaker Elias Bou Saab said that an agreement had been reached that satisfies both sides.
It is hoped that the new deal will resolve the two countries’ dispute over a swathe of territory in the Mediterranean Sea in an area where Lebanon aims to explore for natural gas, and near waters where Israel has already found commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons. Read more
Region faces green hydrogen production challenges
GCC governments including Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are developing zero-carbon green hydrogen and low-carbon blue hydrogen schemes. However, achieving large-scale production, especially of green hydrogen, will be challenging in the coming years, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
While both green and blue hydrogen will play a role in reducing the global carbon footprint, only green hydrogen has the potential to reduce the reliance of GCC countries on hydrocarbons, but this will take several years, Moody’s says.
In the short to medium term, GCC countries’ access to cheap domestic natural gas, their carbon capture and storage expertise, and the limited availability of infrastructure make blue hydrogen production a more viable option than the more expensive and challenging production of green hydrogen.
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Oman expands grid connectivity
10 December 2023
Oman’s power and water sector has awarded an annual average of approximately $1.5bn-worth of contracts over the past 11 years – a relatively low value compared to the total awarded every year by some of its GCC neighbours.
However, 2023 can still be considered a good year for the sultanate, as contracts worth an estimated $1.2bn have been awarded.
This is an improvement on the performance of the previous two years, which saw very limited project activity within the sector, with contract awards valued at just $104m in 2021 and $244m in 2022.
Having adopted a policy to not procure further gas-fired thermal power plants, Oman awarded the contracts to develop its second and third utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in early 2023.
The Manah 1 and 2 solar PV independent power projects (IPPs) each have a capacity of 500MW. Wadi Noor Solar Company, comprising France’s EDF Renewables and South Korea’s Korea Western Power Company (Kowepo), will deliver and maintain the Manah 1 solar IPP project for 20 years.
Another team, comprising Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries and China-headquartered Jinko Power Technology, will develop the Manah 2 IPP scheme. The country’s first utility-scale solar project, Ibri 2, became operational in 2021.
Oman’s Ministry of Regional Municipalities & Water Resources also awarded a $108m contract for the construction of a flood protection dam in Wadi Ajay Gorge in Muscat in early 2023. The rest of the awarded contracts comprise water and power transmission pipeline projects across the sultanate.
Nama Power & Water Procurement Company (PWP), formerly Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP), expects peak electricity demand for the main interconnected system (MIS), the sultanate’s main electricity grid, to grow by an average of 3.54 per cent annually from 2022 to 2029, reaching 8,350MW at the end of the forecast period.
Most of this growth is expected to occur in the near term, as the economy recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to PWP’s most recent Seven-Year Statement, which covers the years 2023-29. It is also higher compared to the 2.5 per cent average annual peak demand growth rate seen between 2015 and 2022.
PWP’s low-case forecast scenario shows an average annual peak demand growth of 1.3 per cent, with the base growing from 6,628MW to just over 7,200MW. A high-case scenario, on the other hand, indicates an annual demand growth of 5.2 per cent, which can drive the demand to reach 9,430MW.
Annual peak demand growth in the smaller Dhofar grid is expected to average 5 per cent between 2022 and 2029.
The first phase of Oman’s North-South Interconnection project, known as Rabt, became operational in November. The 400-kilovolt (kV), 670-kilometre (km) project required an investment of about $966m.
The first phase of Oman’s North-South Interconnection project, known as Rabt, became operational in November
The project enables the MIS, serving the northern half of the Oman grid, to connect with Nihada in Al-Dhahirah Governorate and Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Al-Wusta Governorate.
Al-Wusta offers an optimal location for solar and wind projects, which the country aims to develop as part of its green energy ambitions.
Also part of Rabt's first phase, the isolated networks of Petroleum Development Oman and the Rural Areas Electricity Company (Tanweer) in Duqm SEZ, have been interconnected.
A second phase is being planned for Rabt. To be launched later this year, it will comprise a 500km, 400kV transmission line from Duqm to Dhofar.
Peak water demand in the MIS is expected to increase by an average of 2 per cent annually between 2022 and 2029, while peak water demand in Dhofar is expected to grow by an average of 7 per cent a year.
To meet the expected demand rise in the MIS, several independent water projects are being developed or planned. These include the Barka 5 scheme, which has a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) and is expected to come online in 2024. Ghubrah 3, which has three times as much capacity, is expected to be operational two years later.
A third project, a replacement capacity for the Barka zone of about 102,000 cm/d, is also expected to be added in 2024.
In addition to the second phase of Rabt, Oman is in the early procurement phase of several solar and wind projects, in line with meeting demand growth and replacing expiring contracted capacity.
The power and water purchase agreement for the gas-fired Barka 2 independent water and power facility, for instance, expires in 2024, while the contract for the Barka 3 IPP expires in 2028.
KPMG Lower Gulf, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based consultancy company, has been selected to provide financial advisory services to Nama PWP for the Ibri 3 solar IPP, which will have a capacity of 500MW. Ibri 3, along with the planned 100MW Jalaan Bani Bul Ali wind power project, will cater to the MIS.
Another key scheme being planned to connect to the MIS is Oman’s first waste-to-energy plant in Barkah. When complete, the facility is expected to treat 4,500 tonnes of municipal waste a day, produce 130MW-150MW of energy, and reduce the carbon footprint of Oman's landfills by 1.3 million tonnes annually.
For the Duqm grid, a 100MW wind IPP is being planned, in addition to a potential concentrated solar power plant. These plants are expected to become operational in 2026 and 2028, respectively. A 100MW wind project is also being planned for Dhofar, although there has been no fixed target for when it is expected to become operational.
In May, it was also announced that Oman Electricity Transmission Company is planning a second link to the GCC grid. The planned 400kV power transmission link is scheduled to start operations in the first quarter of 2026.
There are major plans to develop green hydrogen hubs in Duqm and Dhofar, in line with Oman's ambition to produce up to 1.25 million tonnes a year of green hydrogen by 2030.
The proposed projects will integrate renewable energy plants that will supply power to the electrolyser plants, which split water into hydrogen and oxygen, as well as the other units of the facilities.
The government has so far awarded land concessions to international consortiums looking to develop integrated green hydrogen and ammonia facilities in the country.
The programme will have a potentially significant impact in terms of Oman’s future gross renewable energy capacity growth, with some of the earliest announced projects requiring several gigawatts of wind and solar power.
However, since most of the planned projects include captive renewable energy power plants, they will not necessarily affect the Omani utility companies' future capacity procurement plans.
On the other hand, water demand may be affected as the electrolysis plants require pure water to be split into hydrogen and oxygen.https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11354723/main.jpg
Oman 500MW solar project secures financing
8 December 2023
Oman's Manah 1 solar photovoltaic (PV) independent power producer (IPP) project has signed financing deals worth $302m with France's Societe Generale, the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) and Bank Muscat.
The Manah 1 IPP developers and investors, comprising Korea Western Power Company (Kowepo) and France's EDF Renewables, signed the deal on 6 December.
According to a local media report citing a Kowepo statement, the Korea Eximbank plans to provide $170m in project financing.
A team comprising EDF Renewables and Kowepo started mobilising to construct the 500MW Manah 1 solar IPP project in Oman, as MEED reported in September.
The solar power plant will span over 7.8 square kilometres in Oman’s Al-Dakhiliyah governorate.
The developer intends to deploy over 1 million bifacial photovoltaic (PV) modules mounted on a single-axis tracker system for the plant.
A project company, Wadi Noor Solar Power Company, has been formed to deliver and operate the project for 20 years.
The company will work with Australia-headquartered Worley, which has recently been appointed as the owner engineer for the project.
Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP) signed the 20-year power-purchase agreements (PPA) for the Manah 1 and Manah 2 solar IPP projects in March this year.
Both plants are expected to be operational by 2025.
A team of Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries (Sembcorp) and China-headquartered Jinko Power Technology was awarded the 500MW Manah 2 solar PV IPP contract.
Manah 1 and 2 were previously named Solar IPP 2022 and 2023.
To be located 150 kilometres southwest of Muscat, the Manah 1 and 2 solar projects comprise the second utility-scale renewable energy projects to be tendered by OPWP, after Ibri 2, which has been operational since 2021.https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11358677/main.jpg
Masdar and OMV sign green hydrogen agreement
8 December 2023
Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and Austrian energy and chemicals firm OMV have signed a preliminary agreement to partner in the production of green hydrogen for the decarbonisation of industrial processes in OMV’s refineries.
The non-binding heads of terms (HoT) agreement forms the basis of a joint agreement to develop an industrial large-scale electrolysis plant, which will be powered by renewable energy, Masdar said in a statement on 8 December.
The statement added that the partners will collaborate to develop the project and plan to make a final investment decision in the second half of 2024.
The HoT signing follows an initial memorandum of understanding (MoU), which the two parties signed in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
The agreement with OMV is a step in the right direction towards building a robust hydrogen value chain and supports Masdar's ongoing aim of 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum globally by 2030, according to Masdar's chief green hydrogen officer, Mohammad Abdelqader el-Ramahi.
Green hydrogen oasis
According to MEED data, there are at least 12 known and planned green hydrogen projects in the UAE, with a budget of at least $12bn.
In addition to the planned $5bn green hydrogen hub planned by Masdar and French utility developer and investor Engie, the other major planned green hydrogen projects in Abu Dhabi involve its largest industrial firms, including Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), Emirates Steel, Fertiglobe and Brooge.
One of these projects, the 150MW green hydrogen-based ammonia production facility planned in Ruwais, is expected to reach a financial investment decision (FID) shortly.
The UAE's Green Hydrogen Strategy envisages the production of 1.4 million tonnes a year (t/y) of hydrogen by 2031, with green hydrogen accounting for 70 per cent of the target.
This is expected to increase to 7.5 million t/y by 2040 and 15 million t/y by 2050.https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11358471/main.jpg
Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates Dubai CSP plant
7 December 2023
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has inaugurated the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park in Dubai.
The 950MW fourth phase of the MBR solar park required an investment of AED15.78bn ($4.34bn).
It uses hybrid technologies: 600MW from a parabolic basin complex, 100MW from the CSP tower, and 250MW from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The independent power producer (IPP) project features the tallest solar tower in the world, at 263.126 metres, and a thermal energy storage facility with a capacity of 5,907 megawatt-hours (MWh), the world's largest according to the Guinness World Records.
The project covers an area of 44 square kilometres. It features 70,000 heliostats that track the sun’s movement. The molten salt receiver (MSR) on top of the solar power tower is the core and the most important part of the CSP plant. It receives solar radiation and turns it into thermal energy.
The MSR contains over 1,000 thin tubes that enable the absorption of sun rays and their transfer to the molten salt within these tubes.
The project can power approximately 320,000 residences with clean and sustainable energy. It will reduce carbon emissions by about 1.6 million tonnes annually.
The completion of the project's fourth phase brings the total capacity of the MBR solar park to 2,863MW so far. The phases and their capacities are:
- 13MW solar PV phase one: Completed in 2013
- 200MW solar PV phase two: Commissioned in 2017
- 800MW solar PV phase three: Commissioned in 2020
- 950MW hybrid CSP/solar PV phase four: Inaugurated in 2023
- 900MW solar PV phase five: Commissioned in 2023
Dewa is aiming for the MBR development to reach 5,000MW of capacity by 2030. It recently awarded the UAE-based Masdar the contract to develop the solar park's sixth phase, which has capacity of 1,800MW.
Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) awarded a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and China's Silk Road Fund the contract to develop a 700MW CSP plant with storage for the fourth phase scheme in November 2017. Since then, the project has been expanded to include a 250MW solar PV component.
Acwa Power then awarded Shanghai Electric the $3.8bn EPC contract for the hybrid CSP/PV plant in early 2018.
The project reached financial closure in March 2019. The cost will be met through $2.9bn of debt and $1.5bn of equity.
According to the project structure, Dewa is to provide $750m, or half of the project equity. Project developers Acwa Power and the Silk Road Fund will provide 51 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively, of the remaining equity.
The fourth phase project achieved a tariff of 7.3 $cents a kilowatt hour ($c/kWh) for the CSP component and 2.4$c/kWh for the PV capacity, two of the lowest tariffs for CSP and PV solar technology in the world at the time of award.
Dewa holds a 51 per cent stake in the project company, Noor Energy 1, set up to develop the plant, with Acwa Power and the Silk Road Fund holding the remaining stake. The developer consortium has signed a 35-year power-purchase agreement to supply power to Dubai’s grid.
Firms win Saudi Landbridge
7 December 2023
The team of US-based Hill International, Italy’s Italferr and Spain’s Sener has been awarded the contract to provide project management services for the estimated $7bn Saudi Landbridge project.
The Landbridge is a rail project that will connect the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia in the west and the Gulf coast in the east. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects planned in Saudi Arabia. The scheme is being implemented by the Saudi Railway Company (SAR).
The project comprises six lines. The first line involves upgrading the Jubail Industrial City internal network, which is currently under construction. It will require 10 kilometres (km) of track to be built.
The second is the upgrade of the Jubail to Dammam railway line, which is also currently under construction. It will require 35km of track to be built.
The third line involves the upgrade of the Dammam to Riyadh railway line, with 87km of track to be built.
The fourth line, known as the Riyadh bypass, is from the existing network in the north of the city to the south. It is split into two packages: the first has 67km of track, and the second has 35km.
The fifth line is a link from Riyadh to Jeddah and then on to King Abdullah Port with three stations at Jamuma, Moya and Al-Doadmi. The Riyadh to Jeddah line will have 920km of track, and the Jeddah to King Abdullah Port link will have 146km of track.
The sixth line is a new 172km line from King Abdullah Port to Yanbu Industrial City.
There will also be seven logistics centres: Jubail Industrial City Logistics Centre, Damman Logistics Dry Port, a relocated Riyadh Dry Port, King Khalid Airport Logistics Centre in Riyadh, Jeddah Logistics Dry Port, King Abdullah Port Logistics Centre and Yanbu Industrial City Logistics Centre.
MEED reported in November that negotiations with the Saudi China Landbridge Consortium that will build the rail link are in the final stages.
The consortium signed a memorandum of understanding to implement the project on a public-private partnership basis in October 2018. It was formed by SAR and China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
Al-Ayuni Contracting was named as the local partner for the consortium. Other members include French firms Systra and Thales; Canada’s WSP; Aldhabaan & Partners, the local partner of UK legal consultancy Eversheds & Sutherland; ALG Infrastructure; and Calx Consultancy.https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11354086/main.jpg