Data & Analytics

Aramco Plans To Install First Quantum Computer in Saudi Arabia Next Year

The world's largest oil and gas company has selected French firm Pasqal to provide it with a 200-qubit quantum computer.

<i>Pasqal’s quantum computer&nbsp;module. </i>
Source: Pasqal.

Saudi Aramco has announced plans to install Saudi Arabia’s first quantum computer in the latter half of next year. The 200-qubit machine, supplied and operated by Paris-based tech firm Pasqal, will be used to explore new quantum computing applications and position Saudi Arabia as a hub for advanced computing research.

Quantum computing represents a new way to store and process information by relying on the quantum-mechanic states of subatomic particles such as electrons. These states, known as qubits (quantum bits), enable quantum computers to solve multivariable problems in seconds that would take traditional computers years to complete.

The oil and gas industry could potentially use the technology for applications that include supply chain optimization, reservoir evaluation, and economic forecasting.

Initially, Aramco will use the computer in "analog mode" which allows users to control the number of parameters used to generate answers. Within a year, it plans to upgrade to an “analog-digital” hybrid approach, enhancing its capability to tackle more-complex problems.

"Aramco is delighted to partner with Pasqal to bring cutting-edge, high-performance quantum computing capabilities to the Kingdom. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, we believe it is crucial to seize opportunities presented by new, impactful technologies, and we aim to pioneer the use of quantum computing in the energy sector,” said Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Aramco’s executive vice president of technology and innovation, in a statement.

Pasqal, founded in 2019, inked its first collaboration agreement with Aramco in 2022. The national oil company became an equity investor during Pasqal’s $108-million Series B fundraising round in 2023.

Georges-Olivier Reymond, Pasqal's CEO and cofounder, commented on the new deal, "This isn't just any quantum computer; it will be the most powerful tool for industrial use, unlocking a new era of innovation for businesses and society."

Aramco is not the only big oil company making inroads into the quantum computing space.

A 2023 report from Global Data highlighted that BP and ExxonMobil are working with IBM to develop quantum computers for subsurface characterization, while TotalEnergies and Shell are exploring the technology for molecular modeling and emissions abatement.

Baker Hughes has also entered the arena after filing patents for quantum computing applications that include wellbore positioning and geosteering. Rival service company SLB has been using a quantum cloud service provider called D-Wave to leverage the technology for the planning and optimization of large oil and gas projects.

Earlier this year, Brazil’s Petrobras shared at a technology conference that the company is testing quantum computing and expects to be using it to help run the business within the next 5 years.

Additionally, in March Chevron participated in a $100-million Series B round for UK-based startup Oxford Quantum Circuits, which builds quantum computers. The US supermajor said the investment came from its core energy fund which targets tech startups capable of improving its core oil and gas business.