An undercover investigation has revealed that Saudi Arabia is driving a massive worldwide investment plan in order to boost demand for its oil and gas in developing countries. The scheme, according to its detractors, was devised with the intention of getting nations “hooked on its harmful products.”
This research uncovered thorough information on plans to increase the use of fossil fuel-powered automobiles, buses, and planes in Africa and elsewhere, as wealthy countries are gradually switching to sustainable energy. Although there was little information available concerning the oil demand sustainability program (ODSP), the inquiry did get this information.
It is the intention of the ODSP to hasten the development of supersonic air travel, which, according to the organization, consumes three times more jet fuel than ordinary planes, and to collaborate with a car manufacturer in order to mass produce a transportation vehicle that is powered by a combustion engine. In addition, there are plans to promote power ships, which are vessels that run on polluting heavy fuel oil or gas in order to supply coastal areas with electricity.
The ODSP is directed by the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who de facto ruler Saudi Arabia. It requires participation from the country’s most prominent organizations, including the Public Investment Fund, which is worth 700 billion dollars, Aramco, which is the largest oil company in the world, Sabic, which is a petrochemicals corporation, and the most important ministries of the government.
There is a significant amount of information that is available to the public that describes the initiative as “removing barriers” to energy and transportation in less developed nations and “increasing sustainability.” For instance, the program provides gas cooking stoves as an alternative to wood burning stoves.
On the other hand, the research conducted by the Centre for Climate Reporting and Channel 4 News revealed that every single one of the planned projects involves boosting the consumption of oil and gas. “One of the main objectives” was what an official described as being the case.
Recent statements made by the head of the World Bank indicate that wealthy nations and corporations have a responsibility to assist poor nations in overcoming the fossil fuel-fueled economic boom that occurred in the past and implementing renewable energy. In the event that they did not, Ajay Banga stated that there was no possibility of putting a stop to carbon emissions by the year 2050, which the scientists of the world have repeatedly emphasized was essential in order to prevent a climatic disaster.
In a statement, Saudi Arabia stated that it is committed to the climate goals of Paris agreement, which limit increase in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to accomplish this goal, emissions from fossil fuels need to decrease at a quick pace, and the majority of oil and gas reserves need to be maintained underground. This means that climate policies, such as those that encourage the use of electric vehicles, pose a considerable risk to the income of the oil-rich state.
At the United Nations’ Cop28 climate summit, which will begin on Thursday, one of the most important questions that will be discussed is whether or not countries will be able to deliver a vow to reduce or eliminate their use of fossil fuels. In this year, the climate catastrophe has caused temperature records to be broken, and the supercharged extreme weather has caused people all over the world to lose their lives and their livelihoods.
“The Saudi government is like a drug dealer trying to get Africa hooked on its harmful product,” said Mohamed Adow, the director of the think group Power Shift Africa. “The Saudi government is trying like a drug dealer.”
Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly anxious for more customers and is focusing its attention on Africa. At the same time, the rest of the world is transitioning away from polluting and toxic fossil fuels. I find it revolting.
If Africa continues to follow in the footsteps of the nations that pollute the environment, it will never be able to catch up to the rest of the world. This would mean that we would be unable to reap the benefits of modern energy solutions, which Africa is able to take use of due to the enormous potential it possesses in terms of renewable energy. We have the advantage of being latecomers, which implies that we can skip the steps necessary to make a meaningful energy transition.
In the year 2021, António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, made the following statement: “We need to see adequate international support so that the economies of African and other developing countries can leapfrog polluting development and transition to a clean, sustainable energy pathway.”
It was requested that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Energy provide a statement; however, they did not react.
In the brief information that is provided on the website for the program that is written in English, it is referred to as the oil sustainability program. On the other hand, the Arabic version of the website defines it as the oil demand sustainability program.
According to the Arabic website, its stated purpose is to “sustain and develop the demand for hydrocarbons as a competitive source of energy, by raising its economic and environmental efficiency, while ensuring that the transition in the energy mix [is] sustainable for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” This is listed as the objective of the project.
In the beginning, it was stated that the memorandum of understanding that was signed by ODSP and the Saudi Industrial Export Company would make it possible for “activities in the fields of sustaining the demand of oil.” This announcement was made to the Saudi stock exchange in the month of June. A change was made the next day, and this sentence was changed to “activities to increase energy access” in order to accommodate the change.
Undercover reporters posed as prospective investors and met with officials from the Saudi government, which led to the disclosure of information regarding the initiatives being undertaken by the ODSP. The fact that there was a growing need for oil and gas in developing countries was discovered to be a common thread that ran through the projects that were anticipated.
The plan was described as “unlocking demand in emerging markets by removing barriers to energy access through infrastructure investments,” according to the presentation that was used by the authorities.
When the reporters inquired as to whether the intention was to artificially stimulate demand in some major markets, an official responded, “Yes, it is one of the primary goals that we are attempting to achieve.”
“We do not believe that it is viable for [poor countries] to bypass this phase of [fossil fuel] because, in order to fully adopt electric vehicles, you will need an infrastructure that is ready to go.
Numerous African nations do not currently possess sufficient grid electricity to sustain their day-to-day existence. This is a significant problem. We believe that they are deserving of the opportunity to receive the necessary energy for their development at this time. After that, in the future, they will be able to work toward improving or transitioning onto energy sources that are more efficient.
The “incremental demand potential” was selected as one of the criteria for the selection of the 46 projects that were included in the ODSP, according to the officials. The program was designed to facilitate the financing that was necessary for the projects.
The projects fall into three categories: transportation, utilities, and materials. The third category encourages the use of plastics produced from oil to replace certain quantities of cement, steel, and wood that are utilized in the construction industry.
Enhancing the long-term viability of transportation fuel is the goal of the transportation industry, which is trying to achieve this objective. According to a statement made by an official, “We are discussing diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel,” and the arrangement also includes finance for roads.
Our objective is to hasten and expedite the implementation of internal combustion engine (ICE) technology and optimization, as well as to increase its impact and adoption.
Additionally, we have the possibility to expand the availability of low-cost automobiles and to attract more people to purchase them, particularly in developing economies. There are hardly three percent of individuals in Africa who own cars.
The presentation states that the objective is to “partner with a car [manufacturer] in… the development and production of a highly competitive low-cost car” that will “have an oil uplift for the kingdom.” This is the plan that has been presented.
According to the presentation, the objective of the ODSP is to promote the deployment of internal combustion engine (ICE) fleets throughout emerging countries in order to meet the growing demand for gasoline and diesel. In addition, the ODSP may target ride-sharing services, delivery services, and bus transportation.
The objective of the ODSP is to expand the number of flights in the aviation industry by supporting investments that will “acquire or launch” a low-cost airline. The officials stated that work had begun on “fast-track development of commercial supersonic aviation,” which “consumes more energy per-seat-kilometer – three times [that] of subsonic commercial aircraft.”
According to a statement made by an official, the plans for the production of energy take into account “oil-powered mini grids,” which would be driven by diesel or heavy fuel oil. Additionally, investments would be made easier in vessels that are capable of producing “floating power plants” that are powered by heavy fuel oil or gas.
In November, Saudi Arabia signed agreements with Rwanda to “develop demand for hydrocarbon resources,” with Nigeria to “promote collaboration and strengthen our partnership in the oil and gas sector,” and with Ethiopia to “cooperate on oil supply.” These agreements were struck, respectively, with Rwanda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
According to Adow, “The failure of the historically polluting nations to honor their climate finance pledges is the root cause of the fact that African countries are so desperate that they fall for this trick.”
On the other hand, we require financial backing from wealthy nations that tout themselves as climate leaders. If that does not happen, we may anticipate more shady transactions like this one, which puts not only the people of Africa in peril but also the global effort to ensure that everyone lives in a secure and prosperous environment.