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Aramco said to weigh up to $5 billion renewable deals

January 30, 2017
News

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, is considering as much as $5 billion of investments in renewable energy firms as part of plans to diversify from crude production, Bloomberg reported Sunday citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG have been invited to pitch for a role helping Aramco identify potential acquisition targets and advising on deals, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The energy company is seeking to bring foreign expertise in renewable energy into the kingdom, the people said, adding that first investments under the plan could occur this year.

Saudi Arabia is planning to produce 10 gigawatts of power from renewable energy sources including solar, wind and nuclear by 2023 and transform Aramco into a diversified energy company. The kingdom also plans to develop a renewable energy research and manufacturing industry as part of an economic transformation plan announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April.

Saudi Aramco, HSBC, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan declined to comment.

The kingdom intends to become a global “powerhouse” of renewable energy including solar, wind and nuclear power, the country’s Energy Minister and chairman of Aramco, Khalid Al-Falih, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. By 2030 the kingdom wants to produce 30 percent of its power from renewable energy sources.

OPEC’s biggest crude producer is embarking on a domestic renewable-energy program costing $30 billion to $50 billion. The country’s only solar plant in operation, aside from a limited pilot project, is a 10-megawatt facility on top of a parking lot at Saudi Aramco’s headquarters. The national utility, Saudi Electricity Co., is seeking bids for two solar plants to generate a combined 100 megawatts.

Saudi Arabia’s earlier solar program forecast more than $100 billion of investment in projects to produce 41 gigawatts of power by 2040. The government delayed the deadline for meeting that capacity goal by nearly a decade in January 2015, saying it needed more time to assess the relevant technologies.

It was reported earlier that Saudi Arabia will start soliciting bids in the next few weeks for the first phase of a “massive” renewable-energy program costing $30 billion to $50 billion, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said.

OPEC’s biggest producer plans to generate close to 10 gigawatts from renewables, primarily solar and wind power, by 2023, he said at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi. The first tender will be for 400 megawatts of wind capacity and 300 megawatts of solar. It will cost about $700 million, according to Roberto de Diego Arozamena, chief executive officer of Saudi power developer Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, which plans to bid for the contract.

Saudi Arabia plans by 2030 to produce 70 percent of its power from natural gas and 30 percent from renewables and other sources, Al-Falih said.

The nation targets 3.45 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020, state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said in a statement. The goal of 10 gigawatts by 2023 is “only the beginning,” Al-Falih said. “I’m not able to give you the number of where we will be in 2050,” he said.

The goals for boosting renewables capacity over the next seven years are achievable, and the start of the tender process is a sign Saudi Arabia is serious about reaching them, de Diego Arozamena said in an interview in Abu Dhabi. — Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia is also “really moving” to develop nuclear power and intends to build two reactors with a combined capacity of 2.8 gigawatts, Al-Falih said. The country is currently in the front-end engineering and design stage of its nuclear plants, he said.

The country’s only solar plant in operation, aside from a smaller pilot project, is a 10-megawatt facility on top of a parking lot at Saudi Aramco’s headquarters. The national utility, Saudi Electricity Co., is seeking bids for two plants to generate a combined 100 megawatts.

Source: Bloomberg via Saudi Gazette

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