Oman powers through with Middle East’s first electricity spot market


The first spot market for electricity in the Middle East has launched in Oman, helping the country in its efforts to lower the cost of power.

While competitive electricity and water markets are common in the United States, Europe and parts of Asia, until now, they had not reached the Middle East but that has now changed.

The spot market is operated by the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole buyer of electricity and water in the sultanate.

The spot market in Oman makes it possible for generating companies, including those with ongoing power and water purchase agreements as well as those whose agreements have expired, to sell uncontracted output to the market at the most competitive prices, a statement said.

It added that this creates new revenue opportunities for these companies, a particular benefit for solar and wind projects because it can help speed their return on investment.

In most countries in the region, the price paid to electricity and water producers is set by power purchase agreements that are signed when a power or water production plant is first developed.

While this structure provides certainty to both the generating company and the buyer, it doesn’t provide an ongoing mechanism to lower the cost of electricity.

By contrast, a spot market creates incentives for producers to drive improvements and efficiencies so they can offer a lower price in the spot market.

“This helps decrease the cost of electricity and water for households, manufacturers, and other businesses while improving the efficiency of the entire sector,” the statement noted.

Electricity and water producers access the spot market via a single unified portal, where they can participate in the daily market operations that contract for supply for the following 24-hour period.

“With the launch of its spot electricity market, Oman is in the vanguard of market liberalisations and innovations that are happening in the utility sector in the Gulf region,” said Talal Eskandar, senior director VP sales at GE Digital.

“The system supports OPWP in achieving its long-term goals regarding more competitive pricing and improved efficiency around electricity and water procurement.”

While Oman is the first country in the region to introduce an electricity market, it is not the only one pursuing this goal.

Saudi Arabia is also developing the digital infrastructure, market rules and other components required for a spot electricity market.

“The spot market gives OPWP the ability to swiftly and efficiently adjust to changes in supply, demand and transmission capacity, while at the same time encouraging sector-wide efficiency improvements, lower costs to end users, and reduced carbon intensity of the sector,” said Eskandar.

GE Digital’s Advanced Market Management System (AMMS), which includes scheduling, trading, and settlement components, is hosted in Muscat. It provides a framework to master energy trading.

“In Oman, we are witnessing the future of the power and water. As the country begins to experience the benefits of this system, their example will encourage other regional markets to speed their liberalisations, creating a cascade of benefits flowing across the entire region,” Eskandar added.


H2 Industries, Madayn to develop $1.4 billion waste-to-hydrogen plant in Oman

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H2 Industries and Oman’s Public Establishment For Industrial Estates (Madayn) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a waste-to-hydrogen plant in conjunction with PV solar power plants with base-load capacity in the sultanate of Oman. The proposed $1.4 billion facility will be built on a 200,000 square metre coastal site.

The facility will initially convert up to one million tonnes of municipal solid waste each year sourced from waste management operators and mined from existing landfills but has the capacity to expand to manage up to four million tons of waste.

“This is an exciting opportunity and one that will take the tonnes of waste that collects in Oman and turn it into green hydrogen,” the executive chairman of H2 Industries, Michael Stusch said.

“The $1.4 billion investment into Oman will make a substantial contribution to the country’s waste management strategy and demonstrates how fighting climate change and enhancing environmental protection can go hand in hand and benefit all stakeholders.”

The project also includes the construction of a 300 MW base-load capable PV solar installation that will include 70 MW of electrical storage.

The annual production of hydrogen and CO2 generated from the waste has an export value of over $268 million, comprising 67,000 tonnes of green hydrogen and on million tonnes of CO₂.

Although the primary function of the plant is to produce green energy without environmentally harmful emissions, it also offers additional benefits to the region.

The project will allow Oman to develop an effective waste management system, creating employment and delivering other socio-economic benefits.

Tackling waste management challenges

Municipal solid waste management is a challenging issue for the Sultanate of Oman. With a population of almost three million inhabitants, the country produces about 1.9 million tons of solid waste each year.

The per capita waste generation in Oman is more than 1.5 kg per day, among the highest worldwide.

H2 Industries’ proprietary technology transforms organic waste including plastic, sewage sludge, and existing landfill waste in a thermos-chemical process into green hydrogen and pure CO₂.

This is achieved without the use of external electricity or burning waste, making the entire process emission free.

The green hydrogen produced from that process can be transported and stored, using H2-Industries’ Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technologies, and released on demand for use in industrial applications.

Once the pre-development and permitting phase is completed, the facility will start producing hydrogen in approximately 30 months.

The green hydrogen produced at the facility can be sold and transported for international use or, alternatively, H2 Industries can create low-cost synthetic diesel (eDiesel) or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), with the captured CO2, which is the only emission in this process, depending on international market demand.

US$85 Million For A New Industry Development Fund To Promote Investments And Exports

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The World Bank has approved US$85 million in financing for the Jordan Support for Industry Development Fund Project, which aims to promote investments and exports in the manufacturing sector through the operationalization of a new Industry Development Fund. The fund is one of the commitments Jordan has made under its Economic Priority Plan 2021–2023.

Jordan urgently needs to create inclusive and broad-based job opportunities to promote resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, requiring a shift towards a resource-efficient, export- and investment-driven growth model. Manufacturing, among the largest employers in Jordan’s economy, suffered acute shortages of cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. To diversify and expand their exports, and generate more jobs, companies now need to move out of survival mode to a new level of competitiveness.

The Government of Jordan is establishing the Industry Development Fund to put its development policies and programs on manufacturing into practice. The government asked for the World Bank’s support in designing and operationalizing the fund as an efficient, transparent, and effective delivery platform for support for firms, and as a key financial enabler for industrial transformation. Its focus will be upgrading and modernizing industries; export development and promotion; and incentivizing companies toward high performance in areas critical to the sector reaching its full potential, such as increased climate-responsiveness and female employment.

“The Industry Development Fund is a key instrument in our Economic Priority Plan 2021–2023 to help firms in the industrial sector recover and build back better following the COVID-19 crisis,” said H.E. Nasser Shraideh, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan. “It will serve as a stimulus to promote private sector-led investment, as well as modernization, upgrading, and export development, which are key engines of growth for the Jordanian economy.”

The project aims to support more than 500 export-oriented firms directly through the fund’s programs and to mobilize at least US$17 million in additional private capital. It will also support the building of effective delivery mechanisms and a robust governance and operational capacity, enabling the fund to support the transformation of the industrial sector in the longer term.

“Jordan’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been broad-based, but many sub-sectors are operating below their pre-pandemic level and external shocks have led to higher unemployment, especially for women and the youth,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, Mashreq Regional Director, World Bank Group. “This project will complement the integrated package of support for private sector development that the Bank and the Government of Jordan are implementing to foster enhanced public-private partnerships for inclusive and resilient recovery and growth.”

The main activities financed by the Fund will include: (i) Industry upgrading and export development programs; (ii) Outcome-based incentives program; and (iii) Easing access to export credit insurance and to new supply chain finance products.

The project prioritizes gender balance and includes measures to ensure the inclusion of women business leaders/owners and employees, and of various vulnerable groups in the fund’s programs.


Jordan’s garment industry showed ‘resilience’ during pandemic

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Jordan’s garment industry did not witness the pandemic’s worst impact, proving to be ‘relatively’ resilient in its adaptability to new trends, according to Better Work Jordan Annual Report 2021, which noted that the economic downturn in the country’s garment industry has only had a 15 per cent reduction in exports and a full rebound is expected by 2021 end.

The report presents findings and observations from Better Work Jordan’s interactions in the garment sector throughout 2020. Better Work Jordan (BWJ) is a partnership between the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

“…The sector has fared relatively well in comparison with Jordan’s other sectors,” the report said. Other garment industries saw major contractions of 30 to 50 per cent.

Despite the resilience, COVID-19 has exposed some weaknesses in the sector as well, the report said. “Some factories had severe violations, such as forced labour, inaccurate and late payment of wages and reductions in the number of meals provided to workers,” it said.

The 12th BWJ annual report also showed that the country’s garment exports in 2020 were valued at $1.6 billion and made up 22 per cent of all exports.


Jordanian Industrial Estate is presenting and offering Investment Opportunities in Emirates

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Jordanian Industrial Estates Company recently participated the Annual Investment meeting 2022 in Dubai and presented The Industrial estates with its services, incentives and the discounts on selling and renting standard Lands and Buildings for the new estates which built in (Alsalt – Madaba– Altafilah).

Furthermore, COE Dr. Luay Sahwil and The General Manager Mr. Omar Juaid; participated with the Businessmen and Investors in certain secondary meetings who are interested in the Industrial investments and the plenty of the Jordanian & guest Emirates businessmen and who were sorting & focusing out of the opportunities and benefits that applied throughout JIEC with its incentives granted to invest.

Mr. Juaid assured with the participants who are participated to build a point of view for this visit to promote JIEC in The Globe Market; firstly The Arab Gulf Countries to present the Industrial Investment in all Industrial Estates in the Region.


Gov’t incentives to bring more investments to Tafileh Industrial Estate

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The investment package the government has recently endorsed is aimed to enhance the production competitiveness in the Tafileh Industrial Estate, attracting more investments to the estate and creating more jobs in the governorate to address unemployment, Chairman of the Jordan Industrial Estates Corporation (JIEC) Luai Sihweil said on Monday.

Sihwil, in a JIEC statement cited by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, said that the difference of electric power tariffs will be covered through the industry support and development fund or through Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO) programmes.

The Council of Ministers, upon a recommendation by its development and economy committee, decided to grant investment incentives for the Tafileh Industrial Estate, including reducing power prices for industrial investments in the estate by 75 per cent for the first five years of starting the project.

The Cabinet also decided to include the estate in the satellite factory programme and grant its investments a 50 per cent discount on handling processes at the Arab Container Terminal for goods manufactured in the estate.

JIEC Director General Omar Juwaied praised the government’s efforts aimed to support the industrial investment environment in Tafileh, noting that this package of incentives is a continuation of incentives the government offered some two years ago.

The first phase of the estate has completely finished and includes establishing ready-made buildings with an area of 10,000 square metres, while the entire estate is constructed on 500 dunums out of its total area of 1,000 dunums, Petra added.


Jordan, UAE, Egypt launch industrial partnership for $10 bn projects

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Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have launched the Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development to implement industrial projects worth $10 billion.

Jordan’s state-run Petra news agency reported that under the partnership announced on Sunday during a meeting between the three countries in Abu Dhabi, a fund will be created and managed by ADQ, a UAE holding company, to accelerate work across priority sectors.

The partnership, which seeks to boost industrial cooperation between the three countries, aims at implementing joint investments and projects to foster mutual and strategic interests, Xinhua news agency reported.

The investments will be implemented in the fields of pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food manufacturing, petrochemicals, metals, minerals, and others, said the news agency.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said the partnership will help boost the three countries’ exporting abilities and increase their industrial competitiveness.

He added that the joint investments will have a direct positive impact on their economies and will create much-needed jobs and will help ensure food security in several sectors.


Lebanon hopes summer is promising for business

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A welcoming billboard is seen along the airport road in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Wednesday following a campaign by the Tourism Ministry to replace the pictures of political figures with images of natural sites as the country is trying to draw more tourists (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s economy should receive a welcome injection of more than $3 billion, thanks to a rebound in tourist arrivals over the summer, the tourism minister said on Wednesday.

Lebanon defaulted on its debt in 2020, the local currency has lost around 90 per cent of its value on the black market, and the UN now considers four in five Lebanese to be poor.

While soaring inflation is ravaging households with incomes in Lebanese pounds, the informal exchange rate makes prices attractive to most tourists.

“This summer is promising. We expect more than a million tourists and income of $3-3.5 billion during this summer season,” Minister Walid Nassar said in an interview.

Reservations show that three quarters of the arrivals will be Lebanese nationals from the diaspora, he said.

“The remaining 25 per cent are foreigners hailing mostly from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Gulf countries,” Nassar added.

The diaspora had shunned the traditional summer homecoming in recent years, with a deadly 2020 Beirut port blast and biting shortages compounding pandemic-linked restrictions.

The sector had been one of the pillars of Lebanon’s economy, bringing in around $10 billion annually.

Global tourism is roaring back to life after the COVID-19 pandemic, and Lebanon has been keen to draw tourists and their cash dollars.

Despite crumbling infrastructure and massive electricity shortages, the tourism ministry launched a large PR campaign to promote the country as a destination.

With central bank coffers critically depleted and foreign aid hinging on reforms, a summer tourism windfall could buy Lebanon more time.

The country’s top political and security brokers “are aware of how important it is for this summer season to be a success”, Nassar said.