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Earth Finds

National Energy Services Reunited Signs Agreement With Saudi Aramco

National Energy Services Reunited Corp., a national, industry-leading provider of integrated energy services in the Middle East and North Africa region, signed a land lease agreement with Saudi Aramco to build a state of the art operating facility in the newly launched King Salman Energy Park.

SPARK is a 50-square-kilometer energy city megaproject, which will position Saudi Arabia as a global energy, industrial and technology hub. Saudi Aramco will develop, operate, manage and maintain the project's infrastructure in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON).

SPARK's role in enabling localization within the Kingdom's energy supply chain aligns with the strategic goals of Saudi Aramco's In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) program and affirms the Kingdom's commitment to Vision 2030 by serving as an economic catalyst and advancing Saudi Arabia's strong position in the global energy sector.

When operational, SPARK is estimated to contribute more than $6 billion to the Kingdom's GDP annually and create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Dr. Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, Senior Vice President for Upstream, Saudi Aramco stated, ''SPARK will emerge as a key enabler for Saudi Aramco's In-Kingdom Total Value Add Program (IKTVA) which has a mission to raise local content to 70% by 2021. Presently, the Kingdom's requirement for energy-related industries is growing and requires dedicated industrial development focused on the energy sector and SPARK will provide for the development of a world-class energy industry hub to support the same.''

Dr. Qahtani added, ''We're looking forward to collaborating with NESR, one of our first anchor partners at SPARK, and are very encouraged to see NESR take a leading role in developing the energy infrastructure of the Kingdom and the larger region at such an early stage of its journey.''

Sherif Foda, Chairman of the Board and CEO of NESR stated, ''We are very honored to be given the opportunity by Saudi Aramco to be part of this endeavor at its inception. NESR has considerable experience in local manufacturing and indigenizing the supply chain which is already being implemented in the Kingdom.

This new facility shall be NESR's flagship operating facility in the Kingdom and will host all our product lines as well as that of our technical partners. I would like to thank Saudi Aramco for reposing their faith in NESR and as a local company, we are very proud of our contributions to the Kingdom's energy industry and look forward to amplifying our efforts in this regard.''

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Audit Firm PwC Summoned To Explain Crane Bank Books

Audit firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) will be summoned to appear before the inquisitive Committee on Commission’s Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to explain how they arrived at the Shs239Bn undercapitalisation figure that led to closure of Crane Bank Limited (CBL), the committee chair Abdul Katuntu said.

“That document was written by PwC and PwC will be called to explain.” Katuntu said after Bank of Uganda officials failed to inteprete parts of the report authored by the audit firm. BoU officials also failed to explain the extent of Crane Bank’s undercapitalization when the Central Bank took it over on 20th October 2016.

Price Water Coopers was the audit firm that was contracted by BoU to carry out an inventory of the assets and liabilities as well as a forensic audit of Crane Bank upon its takeover.

Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante noted that CBL never refused to recapitalize and there were engagements on how to get lending from BoU. He said Crane Bank shareholders asked BoU to reduce g interest rate from 5% to 2%, but BoU took over the bank without a response.

“CBL shareholders had contributed Shs27bn to recapitalize; BoU had requested CBL to recapitalize by end of October and BoU closed [Crane bank] before the end of the month,” Kasibante said. This was after CBL shareholders requested to borrow from the Central Bank.

Benedict Ssekabira, Director Financial Markets at BoU revealed that the request was  for liquidity support not capital.

“The lending doesn’t translate for capitalisatiomn. The request was for 115.4M USD. At the time, we read the law under which BoU can lend. BoU can only lend 20% of its core capital, we were limited even with that limitation, BOU approved a facility and it had to be secured, we asked for collateral from Crane Bank, we didn’t get it,” Ssekabira said.

Crane Bank Needed Shs157bn To Get Back Up But BoU Spent Shs478b To Destroy It

Members of Parliament on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) are baffled how Bank of Uganda could spend Shs478bn to revive Crane Bank that only needed Shs157bn to recapitalize, but then also failed to save the commercial bank. And in this astonishment, the central bank bosses are failing to explain let alone understand what they did.

Parliament’s COSASE are conducting a probe into the closure and sale of seven commercial banks, following an Auditor General’s report that pointed at possible corruption within the central bank.

On Tuesday, Central Bank officials failed to explain how much undercapitalised Crane Bank was before taking the decision to close it. Governor Tumusiime Mutebile admitted he didn’t have the figure while Benedict Ssekabira, the Director Financial Markets Coordination, put the figure at Shs157b.  

Justine Bagyenda the former Executive Director Commerical Bank supervision said the bank required an additional capital of atleast Shs32b by September 15, 2016 and progressive capital of Shs56b if capital adequacy was to be restored by October 31, 2017.

Wednesday morning, Sekabira insisted the figure was Shs157b after COSASE Chairman asked how much Crane Bank needed to return to adequate capitalisation at the time of closure.

At this point, MP Medard Ssegona asked for documentary evidence before Odonga Otto questioned why Shs478b was spent on a bank that needed only Shs157b at the time of closure.  “If Crane Bank was in deficit of 157b, why did you use Shs478b to clear mess? Why didn’t BoU just capitalise Crane Bank with 157b,” MP Odonga Otto queried.

MP Abraham Byandala wondered why there was a rush to take over Crane Bank since it had been given up to end of October 2016 to recapitalise. “A bank can even be recapitalised within a day but it was taken over 10 days before the time it was given in August 2016 MoU,” he said. BoU spent Shs478b as liquidation support to keep running Crane Bank for three months, before it was sold to DFCU for Shs200b in January 2017.

Report: Aid Agencies Must Act To Save Millions Spent On Inefficient Fossil Fuels

Humanitarian organisations could save some half a billion dollars every year by switching from diesel and oil fuels to cleaner energy sources, research has found.

The report says the "overall picture of energy use by humanitarian agencies is one "of inefficiency and wastefulness" and it makes recommendations to tackle the situation.

The research carried out by Chatham House for the Moving Energy Initiative says that agencies operating in many emergency settings are heavily reliant on polluting, expensive supplies of diesel and oil-based fuels.

"Humanitarians are operating in tough environments where saving lives come first" says co-author Owen Grafham, "energy is not given much thought - diesel is the go-to fuel because it's what agencies are used to and it's quick-to-deploy."

Yet researchers say that aid organisations are often paying extremely high prices for the electricity they generate.  Fuel supplies can be vulnerable and prices held hostage to black marketeers. Lack of system management leads to poor maintenance and frequent breakdowns.

The report also says that refugee camps, which have an average age of 18 years and are often home to many tens of thousands of people - put a strain on local communities and resources.

It estimates that around 5 per cent of humanitarian agency expenditure is spent on such fuels – equivalent to $1.2 billion in 2017. It claims that "achievable changes in practice and technology" -such as solar power, could save the sector some half a billion US dollars in operational costs each year.

Researchers say the presence of international humanitarian agencies supporting large groups of vulnerable people escaping war, famine or disaster – has significant implications for local economies and the environment. But little attention has been paid to the ways in which power is provided to aid operations, or to its financial and environmental impact.

Co-author Glada Lahn said: "Energy is essential to humanitarian response. Most refugee and internal displacement camps are in remote locations, so relief efforts consume large amounts of fuel on the long-distance transport of staff, equipment, and goods such as food and water. Operations tend to rely on on-site generators to power reception centres, clinics, schools, food storage and water pumping ".

The number of those fleeing conflict is at an unprecedented high, having risen by 3 million between 2016 and 2017. The figure of 68.5million people forcibly displaced is 60 per cent higher than it was 10 years ago. With complex conflicts in Syria, Myanmar, Yemen, the Sudans and Nigeria for example, the need for humanitarian assistance shows little sign of abating.

But the report highlights examples where innovative solutions are making a difference. Jordan, where first-of-their-kind solar plants for two major Syrian refugee camps are making annual savings of $7.5 million for UNHCR, have relieved pressures on the national electricity grid and are hoped to remain a legacy asset for local communities. The report – The Costs of Fuelling Humanitarian Aid (LINK)  recommends that aid agencies draw up practical plans to switch to cleaner fuels, including phasing out of diesel generators.

Other recommendations include agencies increasing sharing vehicle fleets, improving monitoring of use and costs and being transparent about fuel costs in reporting.

Grafham said: "In almost every humanitarian situation in which a diesel generator is in operation, there is a cost case (as well as an environmental one) for the hybridization or solarization of the energy infrastructure. At a time of significant budget pressure for many actors in the humanitarian system, agencies should seriously examine the potential of new energy solutions to reduce costs, create new opportunities for vulnerable people, and leave legacy assets for the host community." 


The report also calls upon host countries to ask aid agencies how they are working to reduce their emissions and to include sustainable energy in their humanitarian response plans.

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