Saudi Aramco has signed five key agreements with leading French companies as Saudi Arabia aims to boost its hydrogen transport business and explore opportunities in carbon capture technology and artificial intelligence.

The Saudi state-controlled company said on Saturday it has signed multiple memoranda of understanding with French players, including a key deal to explore a hydrogen-powered vehicle business with Gaussin — a pioneer in clean and intelligent transport solutions.

The agreement between Aramco and Gaussin aims to establish a modern manufacturing facility for on-road and off-road hydrogen-powered vehicles in Saudi Arabia, Aramco said.

“As a first step, Gaussin and Aramco will study the feasibility of a manufacturing facility and a hydrogen distribution business to serve the Middle East region,” the company added.

Multiple deals

Aramco also signed four MoUs with French players Air Liquide, Alteia and Axens that aim to develop opportunities in carbon capture technology, artificial intelligence and local manufacturing.

A non-binding MoU with Air Liquide plans to “evaluate low carbon-hydrogen and ammonia production, logistics, and back cracking technology" opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

The two companies also signed an “additional non-binding MoU to evaluate carbon capture and sequestration opportunities”, Aramco said.

Aramco’s non-binding MoU with Alteia looks at developing “advanced artificial intelligence-driven geospatial imagery interpretation and processing capabilities" in Saudi Arabia.

Another similar MoU with Axens plans “to explore the local manufacturing and maintenance services of furnaces and fired heaters”.

Key opportunity

Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said the partnership “represents an opportunity to promote hydrogen as a low-carbon solution, not just for motorsport, but eventually for mass transportation as well".

“Such collaboration helps us to advance economic growth in the kingdom as part of the Namaat industrial investment programme and takes us a step closer to our shared vision of a more sustainable future,” Nasser said.

As a part of the new deals, Aramco also plans to sponsor the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled racing truck, which has been developed by Gaussin and which will compete in the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.

Net zero goals

Aramco recently announced it is targeting net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly owned and operated assets by 2050.

Nasser had said the company’s ambition to reach net zero emissions across its operations in less than three decades is a historic step forward that will help tackle the most pressing challenge facing humanity.

Saudi Arabia — the world's largest oil-exporting nation — has also unveiled a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2060, even as it continues to expand its oil and gas production capacity.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during the recently concluded Saudi Green Initiative Forum that the country aims to reach net zero emissions by 2060 “through the Carbon Circular Economy approach, in line with its development plans and enabling its economic diversification".