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Monday, 5 September 2022

Aramco makes big (and small) plays into renewables

Aramco’s Sabic looks to inject renewables into the petrochems industry: Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), the chemicals manufacturing arm of oil giant Aramco, is testing out a new piece of technology that could potentially cut emissions from an energy-intensive production process by at least 90%, the company said in a statement Thursday. Sabic is working on constructing a pilot plant for steam cracker furnaces powered by renewable energy, in association with German chemical companies BASF and Linde. The plant will receive 6 MW of power generated by renewable sources and process around 4 tons of hydrocarbon per hour when it comes online in 2023.

Steam cracker furnaces for dummies: In the chemicals industry, steam cracker furnaces are used to break down hydrocarbons into compounds used to manufacture chemical and polymer products like plastic, rubber and detergents, as well as products like clothing and packaging. This is a highly energy-intensive process, relying on natural gas to achieve temperatures of around 850°C. Now, Sabic, BASF and Linde want to use renewable energy to get the same result at the BASF’s Verbund site in Germany.

Who’s doing what: Sabic and BASF will foot the bill for the project — along with EUR 14.8 mn in funding from the German government — though the full price tag for the project was not disclosed. Linde is the engineering, procurement and construction partner and will commercialize the developed technologies in the future.


Aramco’s VC arm Wa’ed is looking to invest USD 100 mn in global startups across a range of sectors, including sustainability startups, CEO Fahad Alidi told Bloomberg. Wa’ed’s USD 200 mn fund is planning 11 investments in 2H 2022, he added. The fund is also raising the ticket size per transaction to USD 20 mn from USD 5 mn.

Wa’ed’s track record for sustainable investing: The oil giant’s VC arm has invested in four Saudi climate-focused startups since 2017 — Red Sea Farms (USD 10 mn funding round), Bio Organic (undisclosed), Sadeem (USD 2.6 mn funding round) and Smart Control (undisclosed).


Aramco signed an MoU with Formula Motorsport Ltd. to use low-carbon fuel (such as natgas and hydrogen fuel) in Formula 2 and 3 races starting next year, according to a Formula Motorsports statement. The agreement with Aramco, which is Formula 1’s global partner, is subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council approval. Under its emission-reduction plans, the sport company is working to have all race cars 100% powered by sustainable fuels by 2026 and reach net-zero by 2030.

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