Saudi Arabia

Saudi Trade-Off: More Social Freedom, No Political Dissent

24 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

In asserting himself over Saudi Arabia, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is imposing a trade-off that appeals to many fellow young Saudis. The prince, in essence, is broadening social liberties in exchange for closing off the limited political freedoms that existed in the Saudi kingdom. That is an approach that has worked for other Gulf monarchies, most notably the United Arab Emirates. There, no hint of political dissent is tolerated but social and religious rules are relatively relaxed. Women enjoy many rights denied to them in Saudi Arabia. An abundance of entertainment and shopping options keeps potential troublemakers busy. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most conservative societies, strictly enforces a stringent interpretation of Islamic religious rules. But the kingdom had allowed a […]

Exclusive: Westinghouse discussing group bid for Saudi nuclear tender

22 Nov 2017   Nuclear, Saudi Arabia

Toshiba-owned Westinghouse ( 6502.T ) is in talks with other U.S-based companies to form a consortium to bid in a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors in Saudi Arabia, three industry sources said. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, sent a request for information (RFI) to reactor builders worldwide last month in a first step towards opening a formal tender, Reuters has reported. A nuclear newcomer, it wants to use atomic power to generate electricity at home so it can export more crude. Taking part in the tender would be a major step for reactor builder Westinghouse after it went into chapter 11 bankruptcy this year. U.S. utilities also abandoned two half-finished Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at V.C. Summer in the United States. Toshiba, which is looking for a buyer […]

Saudi Arabia Squeezes Detainees as It Tries to Seize Assets

22 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

A tycoon was called home to Saudi Arabia from abroad for a business meeting and detained when he returned. A billionaire was ordered to turn himself in or be picked up like a common criminal. An official was called in to discuss an attack that apparently never happened. Now those three are among the more than 200 people detained in luxury hotels in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, as the government tries to seize hundreds of billions of dollars in assets it says they stole through corrupt means. Two weeks after the crackdown began, Saudi officials and their supporters are attempting to justify the indefinite detentions as an ordinary part of a plea-bargaining process, similar to the approach Western prosecutors use with white-collar criminals. But human rights groups say the comparison […]

Saudi Corruption Crackdown Could Permanently Boost Oil Prices

22 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

The Middle East is heading for a major showdown, if statements made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and UAE’s minister of Foreign Affairs Gargash are to be taken literally. Over the last couple of weeks, the Gulf region has been on a rollercoaster ride. Risk analysts are struggling to deal with the dramatically changing geopolitical and financial environment while a direct military confrontation between the Saudi-led alliance and Iran’s proxies is around the corner. The signals coming from the Saudi capital Riyadh are still the same; Saudi Vision 2030 and the Aramco IPO are on track. The media remains skeptical about the unforeseen crackdown on corruption, a week after the so-called “Davos in the Desert” financial get-together in Riyadh (October 24-26), where 3,500 CEOs and financial wizards convened. The fallout of the direct attack on Saudi Arabia’s financial moguls and construction giants, such as Prince Al-Waleed […]

Saudi Graft Settlements Could Reap Billions

21 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities estimate they may be able to recover between $50 billion and $100 billion from settlement agreements with suspects detained in an anti-corruption crackdown that has implicated prominent princes, officials and billionaires, a senior official said. Suspects are being offered settlements to avoid trial, the official said, requesting anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. If they accept, talks are held with a special committee to work out the details. Payments are based on the amounts authorities believe suspects have amassed illegally, not their entire wealth, the official said. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal The purge, which saw royals and billionaires such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal detained, shook the kingdom and reverberated abroad as diplomats, bankers and analysts sought to figure out its impact on wealthy clients as well as the struggle for power in the world’s biggest oil exporter. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was held in the crackdown […]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince could turn to Credit Suisse next

21 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

For those who had not been paying attention to the rise of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his recent dramatic detention of fellow princes and other senior figures over corruption allegations came out of the blue. But amid some pretty tough competition for the world’s attention — a quasi-coup in Zimbabwe, more Brexit tumult — he has kept up the momentum ever since. On Thursday it emerged that the Saudi authorities were seeking vast sums — up to $300bn — in exchange for dropping charges relating to the alleged $100bn corruption racket. It is against that background that two people close to the situation confirm the existence of deepening but secret talks between the Saudis and the Swiss banking sector. Precise information about the whys and wherefores is scant. But there are several plausible reasons for the contact.

The most obvious relates directly to the corruption probe. As Prince Mohammed, or MbS as he is widely known, consolidates his power base, he is keen to ensure those he seeks to weaken cannot skirt his crackdown through offshore routes. If MbS is indeed asking the Swiss banks for information on Saudi clients, it is far from certain that the pitch could succeed. Recommended Opinion: Oil market’s new political reality after Saudi Arabia arrests Activist fund pushes Credit Suisse chief on cost-cuts Saudi Arabia crackdown and persistence of the unforeseen

The US authorities did strong-arm Swiss banks into handing over client information — and extracted $5.5bn in penalties and compensation over the affair — but only because clients had breached US tax rules requiring the disclosure of offshore accounts. Saudi Arabia, which levies no taxes, could not use similar grounds as leverage.

It’s Never Wise to Bet Against a Saudi Oil Minister

20 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Don’t be fooled by the apparent dithering of OPEC and friends over whether to extend their output restraint when they meet at the end of the month. They know full well that failing to send a clear signal would send oil prices plummeting. The apparent backsliding from Russia and a small number of OPEC members may be a belated attempt to create a sense of uncertainty ahead of the gathering. The extension will then have a much more positive impact than if it merely ratified a long-flagged intention. Just look at what happened last time they all met, back in May: The decision to extend the cuts to the end of March 2018 was a foregone conclusion. Every ministerial interview said so. When that decision came, the market duly reacted: Brent fell by $2.50 a barrel amid disappointment that OPEC and the others hadn’t done even more. They don’t […]

Saudi Arabia Pursues Cash Settlements as Crackdown Expands

18 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has spearheaded an anticorruption campaign. Authorities in Saudi Arabia are widening a corruption probe that has reached the upper echelons of the royal family and entangled prominent businessmen who are now being asked to surrender assets in exchange for their freedom, according to two people familiar with the matter. At least two dozen military officers, including multiple commanders, recently have been rounded up in connection to the Saudi government’s sweeping corruption investigation, according to two senior advisers to the Saudi government. Several prominent businessmen also were taken in by Saudi authorities in recent days. It isn’t clear if those people are all accused of wrongdoing, or whether some of them have been called in as witnesses. But their detainment signals an intensifying high-stakes campaign spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi authorities launched a campaign of arrests […]

Saudi investors check out after hotel turned into luxury prison

18 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

As they mingled with Saudi Arabia’s business and political elite at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh last month, the world’s top financiers were effusive in their praise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision to modernise the conservative kingdom. But 10 days later, with the hotel turned into a deluxe jail for the hundreds of princes and businessmen rounded up in an extraordinary corruption crackdown, the mood of many of the foreigners considering investing in the world’s top oil exporter has turned from enthusiasm to alarm. “Half my Rolodex is in the Ritz right now. And they want me to invest there now? No way,” said one senior investor.

“The wall of money that was going to deploy into the kingdom is falling apart.” The corruption purge, which has targeted some of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest and highest-profile businessmen, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire, has been welcomed by Saudis who view it as a much-needed move to recoup what they believe are ill-gotten gains. But foreign investors have been stunned by the speed and scope of Prince Mohammed’s campaign. It has raised concerns about due process in the kingdom at a time when executives were studying proposals to invest in some of the heir-apparent’s grandiose projects, not least a $500bn city in the desert. “One day we are sleeping at the Ritz-Carlton, excited about a new era,” said one regional investor. “The next day they have turned the hotel into a prison — what sort of message does this send us? We some need stability.”

U.S. Seeks to Bolster Saudi Arabia in Face of Expanding Iranian Threat

18 Nov 2017   Iran, Saudi Arabia, USA

The Trump administration is looking at ways to quickly strengthen Saudi Arabia’s missile defenses and disrupt the flow of advanced Iranian-made weapons across the Middle East as concerns grow over a destabilizing new crisis in the region. U.S. officials said they have rushed to ease regional tensions after an eruption of unexpected developments, including Saudi Arabia’s internal political upheaval , the mysterious resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister while visiting Riyadh, and the launch by Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen of an Iranian-made missile that was shot down near the Saudi capital. The Trump administration is pushing for a quick resolution to the political stalemate in Lebanon so the U.S. and Saudi Arabia can focus on what Washington sees as the most significant regional threat: […]

Saudi energy minister: market to remain oversupplied by March 2018

The world will still have a surplus of oil by end-March next year, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Thursday, signaling a willingness to extend output cuts when OPEC meets at the end of November on whether to extend caps well into 2018.  Khalid al-Falih also said he did not want oil prices to rise too fast and too soon to shock consumers, adding that the exit from production cuts would be gradual to make sure market reaction is smooth. “We need to recognize that by the end of March we’re not going to be at the level we want to be which is the five-year average, that means an extension of some sort,” he said, referring to inventory levels in the developed […]

Saudi Arabia’s Risky Market Share Sacrifice

17 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

The 600,000 barrels per day Port Arthur refinery has exclusively processed Saudi Arabian crude since 1988, when Saudi Aramco first bought a stake in the facility—the largest of its kind in the United States. But Riyadh’s new strategy of constricting exports to the United States, along with several Asian countries, has reduced supplies to Motiva and several other refineries across the country. “The drop is huge,” said Amrita Sen of Energy Aspects in London. “It’s not just that Saudi exports are low, but they have been low for several months.” For months, the KSA has schemed to reduce the size of global inventories, which would spur the world’s major oil consumers to purchase more fuel, thus ending three years of a stubborn oil glut. The latest Brent barrel prices have hovered in the $62 range, which is a less than $10 jump from the January 2017 rate. At the […]

Saudi Sheikdown: Arrested Royals Offered A Deal – Your Money For Your Freedom

17 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

As we noted shortly after the Crown Prince’s purge of potential rivals within Saudi Arabia’s sprawling ruling family, while the dozens of arrests were made under the pretext of an “anti-corruption crackdown”, Mohammed bin Salman’s ulterior motive was something else entirely: Replenishing the Kingdom’s depleted foreign reserves, which have been hammered for the past three years by low oil prices, with some estimating that the current purge could potentially bring in up to $800 billion in proceeds. Furthermore, the geopolitical turmoil unleashed by the unprecedented crackdown helped push oil prices higher, creating an ancillary benefit for both the kingdom’s rulers and the upcoming IPO of Aramco. (Click to enlarge) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman And, in the latest confirmation that the crackdown was all about cash, the Financial Times reports today that the Saudi government has offered the new occupants of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a way out…. and […]

Saudi authorities offer freedom deals to princes and businessmen

17 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities are negotiating settlements with princes and businessmen held over allegations of corruption, offering deals for the detainees to pay for their freedom, say people briefed on the discussions. In some cases the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70 percent of suspects’ wealth, two of the people said, in a bid to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers. The arrangements, which have already seen some assets and funds handed over to the state, provide an insight into the strategy behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s dramatic corruption purge.

The crackdown has led to the detention of hundreds of royals, ministers and the country’s richest magnates, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire, Waleed al-Ibrahim, the founder of Middle East Broadcasting Center, which owns the Saudi satellite television channel Al Arabiya, and Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the Saudi Binladin construction group. Some of the suspects, many of whom have been detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh since last week, are keen to secure their release by signing over cash and corporate assets, say people close to the negotiations.

“They are making settlements with most of those in the Ritz,” said one adviser. “Cough up the cash and you will go home.” The settlements aim to recover billions of dollars allegedly accrued through corruption at a time when the government is grappling with a recession triggered by prolonged low oil prices and a budget deficit of $79bn last year. The attorney-general has said he is investigating allegations of corruption amounting to at least $100bn. People briefed on the negotiations say the government wants to take back at least that figure, though the target may rise to as much as $300bn. More arrests are likely as the government widens its graft probe, one of the people said.

Middle East, US crude oil curbs Indian appetite for African supplies

17 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

India’s imports of African crude oil in October plunged to their lowest in over four years, with the world’s No.3 oil consumer increasingly turning to cheaper supplies from the United States and heavier Middle Eastern grades, ship tracking data showed. U.S. crude production has soared more than 14 percent since mid-2016 to 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd), altering trade routes as its relatively cheap and light grades become a viable import option for Asian refiners. Sponsored “Earlier in Asia, West African oil was competing with Middle East grades, but now it has a new competitor: the U.S.,” said Ehsan Ul-Haq, director of crude oil and refined products at consultancy Resource Economist. Surging U.S. crude output has made West Texas Intermediate (WTI)-linked American oil relatively cheap compared with the international benchmark, Brent, which has been propped up by supply cuts led by the Organization of […]

Saudi Aramco says state corruption purge should hearten investors

16 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

 Saudi Arabia’s sweeping anti-corruption purge should be viewed “very positively” by potential investors in Saudi Aramco as a sign the kingdom is committed to economic reform, according to the chief executive of the state energy giant. As the world’s biggest oil producer prepares to sell shares to the public next year in what has been billed as the biggest initial public offering in history, Amin Nasser said investors should “appreciate” efforts to root out graft at the top of Saudi Arabia’s society.

“We support and welcome all the measures taken by the government to eradicate any type of corruption,” he said in an interview. “As an investor you would like to go to a climate where you don’t see any type of corruption whatsoever. So, they should look at it very positively.” His comments come weeks after an anti-corruption probe led by the powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman that brought the arrest of more than 200 businessmen, princes and technocrats on allegations of “systematic corruption” totalling more than $100bn. Many foreign observers believe the kingdom has launched a campaign against established business leaders, which could accelerate the capital flight that was already under way because of an economic downturn and regional geopolitical upheaval.

The purge has also removed opponents and rivals of Prince Mohammed, including his relatives, spurring worries about stability in the kingdom, which helped to send oil prices to the highest since 2015. But Mr Nasser said “certain individuals” had been “taken for obvious reasons” and argued that the clampdown was in line with the anti-corruption policy set out in Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 blueprint for reforming Saudi Arabia’s economy.  “The crown prince talked about it, that nobody would be spared; princes, ministers, whoever,” Mr Nasser said. “Any investors going anywhere, would want to see these measures taken. If you are saying ‘I am fighting corruption and making sure that there is zero tolerance for any type of corruption’, this is something good.”

Why Saudi Arabia Should Fear U.S. Oil Dominance

16 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Now, after half a century as a net importer, the U.S. is poised in the coming decade to become a net exporter, as imports from historic sources decline and demand for U.S. energy products abroad grows. According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook , the U.S. is set to be a dominant force in energy production for the foreseeable future, as the surge from shale triggers the biggest boom in production in more than 50 years. By 2025, increases in U.S. gas and oil production will turn the country into a net exporter of fossil fuels for the first time since 1948. The U.S. will remain the “undisputed leader” in oil and gas markets “for decades to come,” according to the IEA. This prediction is derived in part from the IEA’s calculation of the recoverable reserves in the U.S., particularly shale, which the agency increased by about 30 percent […]

The Saudi Coup Signals War And The New World Order Reset

16 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

For years now, I have been warning about the relationship of interdependency between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and how this relationship, if ended, would mean disaster for the petrodollar system and by extension the dollar’s world reserve status. In my recent articles ‘Lies And Distractions Surrounding The Diminishing Petrodollar’ and ‘The Economic End Game Continues,’ I point out that the death of the dollar as the premier petrocurrency is actually a primary goal for establishment globalists. Why? Because in an effort to achieve what they sometimes call the “global economic reset,” or the “new world order,” a more publicly accepted centralized global economy and monetary framework is paramount. And, this means the eventual implementation of a single world currency and a single global economic and political authority above and beyond the dollar system. But, it is not enough to simply initiate such socially and fiscally painful changes in […]

The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Winds

16 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — With the tacit backing of his father, Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince has established himself as the most powerful figure in the Arab world, rushing into confrontations on all sides at once. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrest of 11 princes in his royal family and nearly 200 members of the Saudi business elite, and has begun to take power from the kingdom’s conservative clerics . He has blockaded neighboring Qatar, accused Iran of acts of war and encouraged the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister. And in Yemen, his armed forces are fighting an Iranian-aligned faction in an intractable war that created a humanitarian crisis . The crown prince has moved so quickly that American officials and others worry that he is destabilizing the region. Signs of potential blowback are growing. Investors, nervous about his plans, have been moving money out of the […]

Saudi Retreat From U.S. Oil Market Cuts Exports to 30-Year Low

15 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia, USA

In push to drain crude stocks, Riyadh concentrates on America Iraq and Canada take market share in the U.S. from the Saudis For a generation, the huge, whitewashed storage tanks at America’s largest oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, have stored almost nothing but Saudi crude. The plant is owned by Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company, Aramco, and since it first bought a stake in 1988, the Motiva refinery guaranteed the kingdom a strategic foothold in the world’s largest energy market. The tankers carrying millions of barrels a month of Arab Light crude from Saudi export terminals to Port Arthur were testament to the strength of the energy and political ties binding Riyadh and Washington. All of a sudden, there are very few Saudi ships arriving in Texas. Since July, Aramco has constricted supply, attempting to drain the crude storage tanks at Motiva — and many others across America […]

Houthi Rebels Threaten To Attack Saudi Oil Tankers

14 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia, Yemen

The Houthi rebel group in Yemen has threatened to start attacking oil tankers and warships sailing under enemy flag if the Gulf coalition fighting it in the country does not reopen its ports. The coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia, which supports Yemen’s elected government, now in exile, closed all borders with the country following a Houthi ballistic missile attack on Riyadh. The Saudi anti-missile defense system intercepted the weapon, but the Saudi government saw the long hand of Tehran behind the attack. On the grounds that the ballistic missile was supplied by Iran—something that Tehran has denied—Saudi Arabia closed off Yemeni ports to prevent another missile reaching its smaller neighbor, currently deep in the throes of what’s possibly the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades, not least because of the port closures. According to the United Nations, the closures could result in the death […]

Aramco To List Shares In Hong Kong ‘For Sure’

14 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco is still studying the international venue for its IPO, but the chief of the Hong Kong stock market is certain that the Saudi oil giant will be attracted to list shares on the Asian bourse because of the chances to draw more Chinese capital, Chinese financial magazine Caixin reported on Monday. According to Caixin, the chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, Charles Li, told reporters on Monday that even if Saudi Aramco picked another international market for its listing, it “will for sure” float shares on the Hong Kong market as well, due to the stock exchange’s access to mainland Chinese markets. The preparations for Aramco’s IPO are under way, but no international market for the listing has been picked yet, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser told the Al Arabiya Television channel on Sunday, reaffirming Saudi Arabia’s position that the listing will not be […]

Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects

14 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco plans to invest some US$300 billion in upstream oil and gas projects over the next ten years, Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser said at the ADIPEC energy conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday. “This is mainly upstream, onshore, offshore and joint ventures in the kingdom and out of the kingdom,” Reuters quoted Nasser as saying. As early as in July this year, Nasser said in a speech at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul that Saudi Aramco was committed to making long-term investments in oil and gas, because new discoveries are very low and the oil price downturn had wiped out US$1 trillion in investments. “We plan to invest more than $300 billion over the coming decade to reinforce our preeminent position in oil, maintain our spare oil production capacity, and pursue a large exploration and production program centering on conventional and unconventional gas resources,” Nasser said […]

The War That Would Transform Oil Markets

14 Nov 2017   Iran, Saudi Arabia

A fire erupted at an oil pipeline connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the two Arab allies are pointing the finger at Tehran . Iranian officials denied any involvement, but the incident is the latest in a series of events that are intensifying conflict between the Middle Eastern rivals. The oil pipeline resumed operations in a matter of hours, but the war of words is heating up. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Khalifa said on Twitter that the “attempt to bomb the Saudi-Bahraini oil pipeline is a dangerous Iranian escalation that aims to scare citizens and hurt the global oil industry.” A spokesperson for Iran fired back, saying that the Bahrainis “need to know that the era for lies and childish finger-pointing is over.” The incident comes only days after a missile was fired from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, which the Saudis pinned on Iran. Meanwhile, a web of intrigue […]

Saudi Arabia Boosts Oil Security as Iran Denies Pipeline Attack

13 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Oil flow at Saudi-Bahrain pipeline resumed after halt ‘Era for lies and childishly laying blame is over:’ Iran An oil pump operates in the Awali oil field in Bahrain on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, will raise security at its oil facilities after Bahrain blamed Iran for a fire at a pipeline that connects the two Arab allies. Iran denied that it was involved. The plan to step up security was reported by Al-Arabiya television Saturday, citing the Saudi energy ministry. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said recent terrorist activities in Bahrain were directed by Iran, and security forces determined that the fire was intentional. The pipeline later in the day resumed pumping oil after a brief halt, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported, citing a statement by Bahrain Petroleum Co. The “attempt to bomb the Saudi-Bahraini oil pipeline is a dangerous Iranian escalation that […]

Saudi King Will Not Relinquish Throne, Senior Official Says

13 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

King Salman isn’t planning to abdicate in favor of his son, a senior Saudi official said, dismissing mounting speculation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will soon ascend to the throne. “There is no possibility whatsoever that the king will abdicate,’’ the official said in response to written questions. Saudi kings usually stay in power even when bad health prevents them from carrying out their job, the official said on condition of anonymity. He noted the example of King Fahd, who stayed on as monarch until his death in 2005 despite being gravely ill in the last few years of his reign. Abdication is unthinkable especially since King Salman, 81, enjoys “perfect’’ physical and mental powers, the official said. Those who suggest […]

Saudi Arabia Boosts Oil Security as Iran Denies Pipeline Attack

13 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Oil flow at Saudi-Bahrain pipeline resumed after halt ‘Era for lies and childishly laying blame is over:’ Iran An oil pump operates in the Awali oil field in Bahrain on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, will raise security at its oil facilities after Bahrain blamed Iran for a fire at a pipeline that connects the two Arab allies. Iran denied that it was involved. The plan to step up security was reported by Al-Arabiya television Saturday, citing the Saudi energy ministry. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said recent terrorist activities in Bahrain were directed by Iran, and security forces determined that the fire was intentional. The pipeline later in the day resumed pumping oil after a brief halt, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported, citing a statement by Bahrain Petroleum Co. The “attempt to bomb the Saudi-Bahraini oil pipeline is a dangerous Iranian escalation that […]

Aramco plans to spend $300 billion over 10 years in upstream oil and gas: CEO

13 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco plans to spend close to $300 billion over 10 years in upstream oil and gas projects, Chief Executive Amin Nasser said on Monday. Hamad I Mohammed Speaking at the ADIPEC energy conference in Abu Dhabi, Nasser said: “This is mainly upstream, onshore, offshore and joint ventures in the kingdom and out of the kingdom.” He also said a decision would hopefully be made soon on the location for the listing of shares in the oil giant. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said last month that Aramco’s initial public offering, part of an ambitious plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil, was on track to go ahead in 2018.

Moscow, Riyadh agree to explore Saudi Aramco taking part in Novatek LNG project: RIA

13 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to study the possibility of national oil company Saudi Aramco taking part in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project, RIA news agency reported on Monday.  Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser had said last month that the company was discussing several investment opportunities with Russian firms but there were no current plans to take a stake in Novatek’s project.

McDermott contract to help boost oil offshore Saudi Arabia

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Vague on specifics, a contract for oilfield services company McDermott International is tied to boosting oil production for offshore Saudi Arabia. McDermott in its release to the press said work would begin immediately for an unspecified Middle East customer for engineering, procurement, construction and installation services offshore in the Arabian Gulf. “This award signifies our long-standing position and strong relationships with our Middle East customers,” Linh Austin, a regional vice president, said in a statement . The company offered few specifics other than to say it was a “major contract,” which meant the value was somewhere between $750 million and $1.5 billion. Construction is slated at McDermott’s facilities in Saudi Arabia and in Dubai, where it has its headquarters. The […]

Saudi Prince Shakes Royal Family With Crackdown

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

In what amounts to a top-down revolution in the House of Saud, an aging king and his son are shattering the monarchy’s long-held tradition of ruling by consensus and accelerating a crackdown on corruption that has caught up scores of royals. The wave of arrests offers the clearest sign yet that the world’s largest royal family is gradually being whittled down to two who matter: King Salman and his 32-year-old son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has ascended to a position of unrivaled power since his father assumed the throne nearly three years ago. Under King Salman, senior princes once thought untouchable have been sidelined from power, silenced—and now also detained. As part of the government’s ongoing corruption investigation, many more royals have had their bank accounts […]

Greed and intrigue grip Saudi Arabia

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

A prime minister vanishes. A ballistic missile explodes. An Arab prince rounds up some of his relatives on corruption charges and detains them in a deluxe hotel where they sleep on cheap mattresses under ornate, corniced ceilings. If it were a Hollywood script, producers would reject the plot as fanciful, but this week’s story of greed and intrigue in a Saudi Arabia steered by its brash 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is anything but.

When Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister, turned up in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last Saturday afternoon to announce his resignation on state TV no one predicted what would follow. He read the speech with the conviction of a kidnap victim, blaming Iran for destabilizing his homeland with their local partners, the Shia group Hizbollah — a message that chimes with Riyadh’s depiction of Tehran as the main source of the region’s ills. That evening, Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a ballistic missile towards Riyadh only for it to be blown out of the sky near the airport.

Overnight, news emerged of the arrest of princes, ministers, and tycoons, in what has developed into a probe of more than 200 people on allegations of “systematic corruption” amounting to at least $100bn — roughly equivalent to the national debt. Among them was the flamboyant billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the global investor dubbed the “Warren Buffett of Arabia”.

Kingdom Of Fear: Saudi Arabia On Lockdown

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Events in Saudi Arabia are unfolding at a blinding pace, with a radical shift taking place within the upper echelons of government. Last weekend, King Salman announced the set-up of a special anti-corruption force that wasted no time in rounding up more than a dozen government officials—both former and current—five members of the royal family, and several businessmen. Since then, the list has been growing, to more than 60 as of today. Now there are reports about the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton being turned into a luxury prison for the detainees. There are rumors—which Riyadh has denied —that one of the targets of the purge, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, was killed while resisting arrest. There are also reports that the purge could fill the state coffers with as much as US$800 billion in assets seized from those arrested—all members of the Saudi elite. Speculation abounds and there is growing worry that […]

New York Listing Unlikely For Aramco IPO

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Aramco is highly unlikely to list on the New York Stock Exchange, Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, told CNBC. The reason: risk of litigation. Interestingly, however, Mobius added that a listing in London is also doubtful because transparency is essential for those who want to list on the LSE and Aramco has been reluctant to share details about its operations despite a lot of declarations that transparency is very important for the company in view of its listing. “I think New York is pretty much out because of the risk that they have litigation. London may be out too because they don’t want to disclose a lot of the inner workings of Aramco, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with that deal,” the executive of the UK’s largest emerging markets fund said. Riyadh has insisted that all the international exchanges […]

Saudi “Deep State” Prince Bandar Among Those Arrested In Purge

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

According to a new report by Middle East Eye , Prince Bandar bin Sultan – Saudi Arabia’s most famous arms dealer, longtime former ambassador to the US, and recent head of Saudi intelligence – was among those detained as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) so-called “corruption purge” that started with the initial arrests of up to a dozen princes and other top officials last weekend. If confirmed, the arrest and detention of Bandar would constitute the most significant and high profile figure caught up in the purge – even above that of high profile billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal – given Bandar’s closeness to multiple US administrations and involvement in events ranging from Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contra program (including direct involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing US-Saudi covert operations […]

OPEC, NOPEC Agreement ‘Unlikely’ to Emerge in November Meeting

11 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

The chances of a coordinated statement between OPEC and its non-OPEC partners on an extension of production cuts is ‘increasingly unlikely’. The chances of a coordinated statement between OPEC and its non-OPEC partners on an extension of production cuts is ‘increasingly unlikely’ to come from the looming 173 rd OPEC meeting, according to oil and gas analysts at investment banking firm Jefferies. “However, a strong statement of commitment to the current policy of normalizing inventories and perhaps a timeline around an extension may be enough to satisfy the market,” analysts said in a brief research note sent to Rigzone. “Although that is a tough call given speculative length,” they added. At the time of writing, the price of Brent Crude was over $63 per barrel, a figure which was last hit in June 2015. OPEC’s 173 rd meeting is scheduled to take place in Vienna, Austria, on November 30. […]

Saudi Arabia to cut crude exports by 120,000 barrels per day in December

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia plans to cut crude exports by 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December from November, reducing allocations to all regions, a spokesman for the energy ministry told Reuters on Thursday. Crude exports to the United States will be more than 10 percent lower than November levels, he said. The world’s top oil exporter said it planned to ship slightly more than 7 million bpd this month, up from low levels during summer when domestic demand was at its peak. Seasonal drops in domestic crude demand free up more oil for export during the winter months. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with other non-member oil producers led by Russia, agreed to cut output by around 1.8 million bpd from Jan. 1 this year until March 2018. OPEC is seeking to achieve consensus among the participating countries ahead of its next meeting in […]

Kingdom Of Fear: Saudi Arabia On Lockdown

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Events in Saudi Arabia are unfolding at a blinding pace, with a radical shift taking place within the upper echelons of government. Last weekend, King Salman announced the set-up of a special anti-corruption force that wasted no time in rounding up more than a dozen government officials—both former and current—five members of the royal family, and several businessmen. Since then, the list has been growing, to more than 60 as of today. Now there are reports about the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton being turned into a luxury prison for the detainees. There are rumors—which Riyadh has denied —that one of the targets of the purge, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, was killed while resisting arrest. There are also reports that the purge could fill the state coffers with as much as US$800 billion in assets seized from those arrested—all members of the Saudi elite. Speculation abounds and there is growing worry that […]

Scores more Saudis detained in $100 billion corruption sweep

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Dozens of more people have been taken into custody by Saudi authorities, the kingdom said Thursday, bringing to 201 the number detained in a sweep that investigators say has uncovered at least $100 billion in corruption. Saudi critics and experts have called the unprecedented purge of top princes and businessmen a bold and risky move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at consolidating power as he casts his eye toward the throne, sidelining potential rivals and dismantling alliances built with other branches of the royal family. The sweep comes at a time of increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival, Iran, over the ongoing conflict and suffering in Yemen and a newly erupting political crisis in Lebanon. Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said 208 people had been called in for questioning, and that seven were released without charge, leaving 201 in […]

Is Saudi Arabia Lying about Its Oil Inventories?

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s reports about declining crude oil inventories were instrumental in the buildup of trust on the market that OPEC’s—and the Kingdom’s specifically—efforts to rebalance crude oil’s fundamentals were working. Now, a satellite imaging company, Orbital Insights, is challenging these reports, suggesting that OPEC’s leader may have well been lying to get prices higher. While this would not exactly be a surprise, it would throw a stone in the quiet waters of the official OPEC narrative that has played a lead role in several oil price rallies so far this year. And here’s the size of this stone: Orbital satellite data suggests that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil inventories have risen slightly since early 2016—not dropped. A slight rise in itself would normally not be a big deal, but Riyadh has been reporting declines in inventories over this period, to the tune of some 70 million barrels. But things are […]

Saudi Aramco signs engineering and construction deals worth $4.5 billion

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco signed agreements on Thursday worth $4.5 billion with firms from Europe, the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates for work on a range of oil and gas development projects, mostly aimed at boosting gas production. Oil tanks seen at the Saudi Aramco headquarters during a media tour at Damam city November 11, 2007. REUTERS/ Ali Jarekji/File Photo Saudi Aramco is pushing ahead with energy projects that it has listed as a priority to keep the world well supplied with oil while meeting increased domestic demand for gas to fuel industrial growth. By freeing up more oil for export, gas projects will increase supplies to energy utilities and as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Aramco has plans to double its gas output to 23 billion standard cubic feet per day. Signing the deals at a public ceremony in Dhahran, Aramco did […]

Arrests of Saudi media moguls raise ownership fears

10 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Among the 200 princes, businessmen and senior officials arrested in Saudi Arabia’s sweeping anti-corruption crackdown are the two most important media moguls in the Arab world, potentially giving the kingdom’s powerful crown prince huge sway over news and opinion. Waleed al-Ibrahim, founder of Al Arabiya-owner Middle East Broadcasting Center, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, majority owner of Rotana Group, between them control a wide network of Middle Eastern television channels, radio stations, music labels and digital entertainment assets from Morocco to Oman. Both men were arrested over the weekend as part of the anti-corruption drive led by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince. While the corruption allegations remain under investigation, observers worry that the Dubai-based media groups could potentially fall into government hands just as Prince Mohammed is strengthening his hold over the kingdom. “The prospect of bringing the giants of Saudi and Arab media under unified government control is worrying. It raises concern that the diversity of opinion and coverage will be further curtailed,” said Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “Mohammed bin Salman is clearly intent on controlling the message as he conducts a dramatic restructuring of the Saudi state and economy.”

Oil Tycoons Make Billions In Saudi Purge

9 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Oil tycoons are applauding Saudi Arabia’s recent anti-corruption raid, which has boosted the net worth of the world’s 21 largest oil tycoons by $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg. The boost came on the back of increased crude prices as reports of the arrests emerged. The net worth of Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, on the other hand—one of the arrested princes—sunk to its lowest level in 5.5 years. His biggest asset, the Kingdom Holding Co., took most of the losses. The Bloomberg index of billionaires dropped Talal’s ranking 11 places to No. 61. In total, his net worth has sunk $2 billion since the anti-corruption team announced his arrest. Now, he owns a $17 billion fortune, valued at less than half of its 2014 peak. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge took down Talal in a move that “would be like arresting Warren Buffet or Bill Gates in […]

With Saudi Arrests, Crown Prince Shows He Can Force Change. But It’s Not Democracy

9 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

The Saudi prince behind the weekend’s unprecedented arrest of high-level Saudi officials and businessmen is known as young and brash, and has even been called reckless. He is also known to be in tune with Saudi Arabia’s youth; those under 25 make up a majority of the country’s population. The prince’s latest high-risk move has gotten rave reviews from Saudis on Twitter, the country’s most popular social media outlet. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MBS, as the 32-year-old leader is known, is gambling that he can modernize the ultra-conservative kingdom by consolidating power and mobilizing a generation of young people, say Saudi analysts inside and outside the kingdom. “Did MBS just pull a red wedding?” asked one supporter on Twitter, comparing the weekend’s purge to a bloody family massacre on Game of Thrones. Arrests began on Saturday, hours after the prince was named to head a new anti-corruption […]

Aramco expects to boost capital expenditure by about 10 percent

9 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Oil giant Saudi Aramco expects to increase its capital spending budget by almost 10 percent in its next financial year, a senior vice president at the state-owned company said on Thursday. A view shows Saudi Aramco’s Manifa oilfield, Saudi Arabia January 22, 2015. Picture taken January 22, 2015. Saudi Aramco/Handout via REUTERS The plans to increase investment come as Aramco prepares for a much-vaunted international IPO as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pushes reforms to make the kingdom less reliant on oil. Aramco’s senior vice president of technical affairs, Ahmad al-Sa‘adi, told a business conference on Thursday that the company’s allocation for capital spending in its current financial year is almost 350 billion Saudi riyals ($93.31 billion) and would rise by about 10 percent the following year. Al-Sa‘adi added that the increased spending will provide big opportunities for Saudi businesses looking to […]

Saudi purge demonstrates ruthlessness of crown prince

9 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

Five things about Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Media captionFive things about Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Big things are happening in Saudi Arabia. Princes, ministers and top businessmen are being arrested, detained in a luxury hotel, accused of corruption, their planes grounded and their assets seized. The driving force behind this is 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who also heads the newly formed anti-corruption committee. So what’s this all about? Is it really about corruption or is it nothing more than a power grab by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The answer is it’s both. Those caught up in the anti-corruption drive are reportedly being held at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Corruption is rampant in Saudi Arabia. Bribes, sweeteners and lavish kickbacks have long been an integral part […]

Saudi Corruption Crackdown Topples Oil Kingpins

9 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

After Saturday’s news emerged that a long list of high-profile Saudi royals, military leaders and multi-billionaires were arrested or confined to their quarters, all seemed to be only an implementation of the crown prince’s open threat that “no-one is above the law, whether it is a prince or a minister.” The current list of arrests include names like Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the most media-loved Saudi businessmen, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, former head of the Saudi National Guard. At the end of the weekend, the impact was clear: The new Saudi power broker isn’t cutting anyone slack. Just after that, in an effort to clean house in one fell swoop, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) announced—by royal decree—a new anti-corruption committee. At the moment, most eyes are on the anti-corruption narrative, which is being pushed by the Saudi government and media. The announcement of the […]

Oil Holds Near Two-Year High on Prospect of More Saudi Arrests

Saudi attorney general says arrests just start of crackdown U.S. crude stockpiles probably fell by 2.45 million barrels Oil traded near the highest level in more than two years as political upheaval in top crude exporter Saudi Arabia reverberated through a market where prices were already elevated by signs of tightening supply. Investors have piled into oil as a shake-up of the ruling elite in OPEC’s biggest producer was seen to consolidate power with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who backs extending the group’s output cuts aimed at clearing a global glut. The purge also raised concern over instability in the kingdom, supporting a geopolitical-risk premium on crude that’s emerged with heightened tensions surrounding nations such as Iraq and Iran. Oil’s gained more than 20 percent since the beginning of September on signs global supplies are tightening and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies may prolong […]

Saudi reopens Lebanon front in struggle with Iran

Saudi Arabia has opened a new front in its regional proxy war with Iran, threatening Tehran’s powerful ally Hezbollah and its home country Lebanon to try to regain the upper hand. A man walks past a banner in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir With Iranian power winning out in Iraq and Syria, and Riyadh bogged down in a war with Iran-allied groups in Yemen, the new Saudi approach could bring lasting political and economic turmoil to a country where Tehran had appeared ascendant. The resignation on Saturday of the Saudi-allied Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh and blamed on Iran and Hezbollah, is seen by many as the first step in an unprecedented Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics. “The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to […]

Saudi Arabia Expands Crackdown on Elite

8 Nov 2017   Saudi Arabia

 Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb, on Monday vowed it would arrest more people as part of the government’s sprawling corruption investigation, which began secretly some three years ago. The weekend’s events represent “merely the start of a vital process to root out corruption wherever it exists,” he said. Among those arrested in the latest wave, according to people familiar with the matter, are Naser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, the founder and a non-executive board member of Al Tayyar Travel, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest travel companies. One of these people said at least two prominent tribal leaders were also detained. They couldn’t be reached for comment. In a statement posted on the website of the Saudi stock exchange, Al Tayyar said it is aware of reports of […]