Sadara Review 2018

Prince Mohammed at the launch of SPARK

Prince Mohammed at the launch of SPARK

SPARK sets off a new era of growth in Saudi Arabia

At the official ground-breaking, Saudi Arabia reiterated its commitment to creating a global energy, industrial and technology hub at SPARK. ABDULAZIZ KHATTAK, who attended the grand ceremony, reports on the ambitions for the mega development

Spread over a massive 50 sq km, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is seen as a catalyst for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 in its ambitions to diversify the kingdom’s economy beyond oil and position it as a global energy, industrial and technology hub with a thriving private sector.

When operational, the mega city project is estimated to contribute more than $6 billion to the kingdom’s GDP annually and create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. The development is being spearheaded by Saudi Aramco.

Located in the Eastern Province, Spark was launched amid much fanfare and tight security at the Great Hall, King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, and Ministry of Defence, the chief architect and force behind Vision 2030.

An artist’s impression of SPARK

Speaking at the launching ceremony, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al Falih, said: "Spark supports the kingdom’s efforts to diversify the national income, provides jobs opportunities for Saudis, enhances the role of the private sector, attracts foreign investments, and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in the energy sector."

Construction at Spark began in September 2017 with engineering designs for the whole project now more than halfway complete. The first phase of development is set to be completed by 2021 and investments in this phase alone are expected to reach $1.6 billion.

The whole park is said to be completed by 2035, and by then it hopes to have attracted more than 350 industrial manufacturing and service facilities ranging from equipment for drilling, electrical services, and liquids treatment; exploration and production services; to pipes, vessels, tanks, valves, and pumps. Two-thirds of the development consists of industrial land.

The launch also saw the exchange of 12 major industry agreements between Spark and global industry heavyweights, including Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, UND Aerospace, NESR, Halliburton, Borets, Al Rushaid Group, Oilfields Supply Centre, valvospain, Emerson, Saudi Information Technology Company and Rayhtheon, who will invest and establish operations.

In fact, Schlumberger was the first investor at Spark which in December 2017 announced plans for a centre for manufacturing onshore oil and gas well platform products, as well as their supply chain products.

Negotiations are under way with more than 120 industrial investors in the initial phase.

For Saudi Aramco, Spark is a key part of its supply chain initiative – the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme, and it will leverage the company’s pivotal role as the world’s most reliable energy supplier – and the world’s leading megaproject manager.

The project will drive value creation in all of Aramco’s activities and contribute to its local-content mission, which aims for developing a sector that covers 70 per cent of local demand and can export 30 per cent of its products by 2021.

Aramco will also make Spark its drilling and workover operation headquarters, and home to a supply chain management centre.

Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said: "The King Salman Energy Park will start a new era of growth for one of the kingdom’s thriving sectors. It will serve as a central gateway to the region’s economies, with Saudi Aramco continuing to be at the heart of the global oil and gas industry. We’re looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at Spark, as we are investing in business opportunities for international investors and private-sector companies in the kingdom. Together, we are building a world-class energy hub that will accelerate solutions across the value-chain for generations."

In terms of its location, Spark is situated in the heart of the Saudi energy business, near major workforce providers and adjacent to highway and railway networks. This location also allows for integration with Dammam’s third Industrial City, as well as proximity to power generation and water sources, and logistical services.

Eventually, the mega city will be transform into a world-class, sustainable ecosystem that includes well-developed infrastructure, including a dry port; industrial training institutes; residential compounds; and commercial activities – all providing a one-stop shop to incentivise investment and enable small and medium enterprises, the backbone of a healthy private sector.

To train and develop national talent in the energy sector and meet investors’ local needs, Spark’s training area will hold 10 centres. Meanwhile, residential and commercial areas would include residential compounds, hotel units, a health centre, schools, and recreation facilities.

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