Aramco signs joint ventures with Google and Cognite to boost kingdom’s digitalisation

New companies will be set up to roll out cloud computing and industrial digitalisation services

Aramco's collaboration with Google builds on the rapidly expanding cloud services demand in Saudi Arabia.​​​​ EPA
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Saudi Aramco Development Company, a subsidiary of the state-owned oil company, is setting up two new technology businesses after signing joint ventures with Google and Norway's Cognite.

Under the agreement with Alphabet-owned Google, Google Cloud will set up a new cloud region in the kingdom and the joint venture will roll out cloud services to companies across the country.

“Bringing Google Cloud to Saudi Arabia will deliver significant benefits … the future of Saudi Arabia’s business transformation and growth depends on its ability to successfully leverage cloud services,” Ahmad Al Sa’adi, Aramco’s senior vice president of technical services, said.

Google Cloud offers its customers a range of services including artificial intelligence, smart analytics and data management. The company says 100 per cent of the energy used to power its operations are matched with renewable energy purchases.

“With this agreement, Google Cloud's innovative technology and solutions will be available to global customers and enterprises in Saudi Arabia to enable them to better serve end consumers," Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud’s chief executive, said.

Aramco’s partnership with Cognite will establish a new company that will focus on accelerating the pace of digitalisation of industry in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East and North Africa region, Aramco said.

It will “develop, distribute and deploy end-to-end digital solutions” for customers across sectors including oil and gas, power and utilities, manufacturing and shipping.

“The JV with Cognite aims to create advanced end-to-end digital software solutions in Saudi Arabia, which will maximise local content, contribute to GDP growth, create new jobs, accelerate digital talent development and sustain Aramco’s resilience,” Mr Sa’adi said.

Aramco and Cognite expect the JV to be operational in 2021, following regulatory clearance.

“We are committed to making our strategic partnership with the world’s largest integrated oil and gas company a resounding success,” Oyvind Eriksen, chairman of Cognite’s board of directors, said.

“We believe Aramco’s deep operational expertise, combined with Cognite’s track record of developing and deploying industrial software for digital frontrunners, will be a powerful catalyst for the advancement of digital transformation across heavy-asset industries,” he added.