Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia’s Zenel Company and Iran’s Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Company Tavanir have agreed to build the 1,200-megawatts power plant worth 500m euros to build a combined cycle power plant in Heris, East Azerbaijan province. Iran’s deputy energy minister for power affairs stated that the construction of the power plant will be launched by March 21 and will be completed within two years. The project will be abuild, operate, transfer (BOT) deal, and the electricity generated from the power plant would be sold to Iran.

Via AMEInfo.

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Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi has said there is ‘absolutely ample supply’ in the global oil markets at the present time, reported Reuters. Al Naimi’s comments will lead to strong speculation that the OPEC oil cartel which meets this week in Abu Dhabi will refrain from raising its output. The minister said recent price rises towards $100 a barrel had nothing to do with supply issues.

Via AMEInfo.

LONDON — OPEC members will not announce an increase in oil production at this weekend’s summit, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said Tuesday, suggesting oil prices are likely to stay around $100 a barrel.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Ali Naimi said, “There will be absolutely no discussion” of a production increase when the meeting convenes in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Some analysts fear that if OPEC, which controls about 40% of world output, does not release more supply, prices could surge further and affect inflation, interest rates and global growth.

Asked if he was concerned about prospects for the global economy if oil did stay pegged at $100 or more a barrel, Naimi said:

“I don’t like the word worried; I can be concerned. Everybody is concerned about the world economy. We are interested in making the world economy grow because prosperity ensues from that growth. We have no interest in seeing [it] regress.”

Via Los Angeles Times.

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has urged Iran to avoid escalation in its standoff with the West over its nuclear program and called for a solution that would allow Tehran to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

King Abdullah’s remarks, published on Thursday, come a week after Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Iran’s Gulf neighbors were willing to set up a body to provide it with enriched uranium.

“The world fears that Iran’s nuclear program will lead to developing nuclear weapons. Iran has announced its nuclear program is intended for peaceful use,” the king said in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, carried by the official Saudi news agency SPA.

“If this is the case, then we don’t see any justification for escalation, confrontation and challenge, which only makes issues more complicated.”

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries share U.S. concerns that Iran’s nuclear energy program is a cover for developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its plans are peaceful.

Gulf states have announced plans to begin their own nuclear energy program, raising concern over an arms race in the world’s top oil exporting region.

Full article here.  In a nutshell, the Saudis are hoping that hostilities won’t break out between Iran and the U.S. because it will likely interfere with the legitimate plans of governments within the Gulf States region to build nuclear energy plants to help them meet growing electricity demand there.

Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are all gearing up for atomic power.  If nations in the largest oil-producing region of the world are placing their bets on nuclear energy, it does give one pause, doesn’t it?  But they’re just following the course of certain other developed nations … China and Japan are already well on their way to becoming more reliant on nuclear energy; France is producing 80 percent of its electrical needs with it; Belgium, 70 percent; and even Lithuania, 90 percent.

And the U.S.?  Still stuck in the mud, we’re afraid.

Russia could consider helping Saudi Arabia with its possible atomic energy programme, President Vladimir Putin told local businessmen, Reuters reported. Saudi Arabia and other GCC member states said in December they had ordered a study on a possible joint civil atomic programme. Russia has previously helped Iran set up a nuclear power plant.

Via AMEInfo.

Saudi Arabia has significantly reduced the powers of its absolute monarchy by quietly removing the king’s authority to choose his own successor.

This landmark constitutional reform, enacted by royal order last October but only disclosed this week, fundamentally changes the way the desert kingdom – which controls 25 per cent of the world’s oil – is governed.

Until now, the king alone has selected his successor, known as the crown prince, from among the sons and grandsons of King Abdul-Aziz, the founding leader of Saudi Arabia, better known as Ibn Saud.

In future, a committee consisting of senior members of the royal family, called the Bay’ah Council, will vote for the crown prince from three candidates named by the king.

The council is empowered to reject the king’s choice and can even impose a crown prince against the monarch’s will. It can also declare the king or crown prince incapable of ruling.

“What makes this change important is that, in addition to taking the final decision about who rules out of the king’s hands and institutionalising it, it brings stability to the succession process,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to London and Washington.

… Under the new system, Prince Turki himself, who was Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief before his ambassadorial appointments, is a credible candidate for crown prince.

Full article here.

While he was intelligence chief in the 1980s, Prince Turki reportedly met with Osama bin Laden several times, lending personal support to bin Laden’s war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. To be fair, however, we were supporting bin Laden back then, too. Prince Turki subsequently denounced bin Laden.

Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash. Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

Full article here.  Perhaps Messrs. Baker and Hamilton ought to invite the Saudis to the Iraq discussion table along with the Iranians and the Syrians — if President Bush ever decides he wants an Iraq discussion table.

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