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Saudi Zamil Group eyes green energy projects as CEO sees oil and gas here to stay
RIYADH: Oil-to-real estate investment firm Zamil Group is weighing up entering the renewable energy market, the company’s CEO Adib Al-Zamil said.
“Investing in new sectors is what has kept us going as a group. We continue to look, we’re continuously looking, ” Al-Zamil told Arab News in an interview.
The prominent family business covers a diverse portfolio of owned, joint venture, and publicly-listed companies, spanning building materials, manufacturing, offshore, petrochemicals, trade and services, and real estate and investments.
The group, founded in 1920, posted a net profit after zakat and tax of SR13.1 million ($3.5 million) for the first nine months of 2021, against a net loss after zakat and tax of SR125.6 million in the year-earlier period, according to the company’s financial statement.
However, Al-Zamil said the prospect of investing in green energy does not mean it will abandon investments in oil and related services.
“The drilling that we’re doing supports oil. We were convinced that oil and gas will be here for a few more decades to come,” he added.
Last June, the group bought one of the largest oil and gas producers in Egypt ADES for an undisclosed sum, which Al-Zamil said was an important step for his firm.
“We think it’s very important. I think its importance comes not only from its financial impact, which we think is quite viable, but also from the value it will bring into the Kingdom,” he added.
“The importance of having a full ecosystem for oil and gas is critical for the Kingdom.”
Al-Zamil also dismissed the notion that the transition by major economies to greener forms of energy will affect the company’s investment in oil.
“The so-called energy transition that everyone’s talking about, cannot happen without the continuity of oil and gas being supplied in an orderly manner.”
“I’m not saying that no one really cares; no, we do care. We’re doing all that we can do to neutralize our carbon emissions,” he said, adding that one cannot neglect the fact that there is a need for oil and gas, and “we need to produce energy for the world continuously”.
“Substitutes are not available now. It’s very nice to talk about the future, but today we have a life to live, and we need gas and oil.”
The CEO added that oil price fluctuations would not sway the group’s commitment to the sector.
“We look at the long term; we’re not short-term players. Oil is a commodity. There are ups and downs, and that’s normal. But when we invest, we invest because we think that this is an industry we want to be in for the long term,” Al-Zamil underlined.
The CEO revealed that despite owning stakes in listed firms, his group has no plans to seek an initial public offering.
“The Zamil group is a wholly-owned, family private company. Our subsidiaries are listed, but as a group, there is no intention to do this,” he added.
Zamil pointed out that the Saudi Arabian economy held up well during the height of the Covid-19 health crisis.
“I think we have performed much better than the others. We’ve lived with it; we’ve seen the difficulties. But we have been able to overcome most, if not all of them,” he said but adding that world trade has not shaken off the effect of the pandemic.
“There is a global influence, specifically logistics, freight, and so on. The export and import of goods have been impacted. But as far as a local economy, I think it’s behind us,” Al-Zamil added.
The head of the wide-ranging investment group also likes the look of some of the digital economy startups springing up in Saudi Arabia.
“It seems that everyone nowadays is really talking about IT and IT-enabled technologies. And I think really that’s where the world will go,” said Al-Zamil.
“The young males and females of this country are very much tuned to this industry. They understand it; they like it. I think that could be a fantastic area to be. All that relates to it, whether it is the artificial intelligence or the other applications, it’s just a fantastic field to be in,” he signed off.
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