Top crude exporter Saudi Aramco has established a $1.5 billion sustainability fund to invest in “breakthrough” technology and start-ups that will help to address climate change.
“This is going to be amongst the biggest funds in the world for sustainability,” Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The fund, managed by Aramco’s venture capital arm, will invest in technology that supports the energy company’s 2050 net-zero goals while helping to develop new lower-carbon fuels, the company said.
It will initially focus on areas such as carbon capture and storage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and hydrogen, among others.
Aramco has “a number of funds” but the new one is dedicated to supporting sustainability and breakthrough technology globally, Mr Nasser said.
In February, Aramco officially announced the launch of Prosperity7 Ventures, a $1bn venture capital fund. Its investments include early stage enterprises in the blockchain, as well as the financial and healthcare sectors.
In 2020, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures said it was planning to set up a $500 million fund to boost investments in the technology sector.
“Going forward, we are also investing a lot in renewables and low carbon energy like blue hydrogen,” Mr Nasser said.
Aramco plans to produce up to 11 million tonnes a year of blue ammonia by 2030 and is currently developing carbon capture and hydrogen capabilities.
Blue hydrogen production is expected to contribute to its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Hydrogen is expected to account for 12 per cent of global energy use and 10 per cent of carbon emission reductions by 2050, driven by the urgency of climate change and countries’ net-zero commitments, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
It comes in various forms, including blue, green and grey hydrogen. Blue and grey are derived from natural gas while green is produced using renewable sources.
This year, Aramco and fertiliser producer Sabic Agri-Nutrients received the world’s first independent certificate of accreditation for producing blue hydrogen and ammonia products.
Aramco’s latest announcement comes as energy markets face increasing uncertainty as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Oil markets will enter a new phase of uncertainty once an EU ban on Russian crude comes into effect on December 5. This will be followed by a ban on product imports from February 5.
The current economic sanctions against Russia’s energy exports have resulted in a “realignment” in the global oil trade, Mr Nasser said.
Russia is selling its crude at a discounted rate in some markets while oil shipments to Asia are being redirected to Europe and North America, he said.
“There are logistical [and] insurance issues but this is being handled with the right discounts,” Mr Nasser said.
Aramco exported 950,000 barrels per day of crude to Europe in September, compared with 490,000 bpd in the same period a year earlier, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.
Crude production in Saudi Arabia increased by 236,000 bpd to 11.05 million bpd in August while its exports in the month surged to more than a two-year high of 7.6 million bpd, according to the latest figures from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative.