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Aramco to use Saudi Arabia’s first quantum computer

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser (centre back) at the signing ceremony for the quantum computer deal with Pasqal SPA
Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser (centre back) at the signing ceremony for the quantum computer deal with Pasqal
  • Aramco aims to be quantum ‘pioneer’
  • Technology will be ready next year
  • French company Pasqal will be operator

Saudi Arabia plans to deploy its first quantum computer, after an agreement between the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, and the French computing company Pasqal. 

Pasqal will install, maintain and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, due for deployment in the latter half of 2025, Aramco said in a statement.

Quantum computers use the principles of quantum mechanics to tackle problems too complex for traditional computers.

This fundamental difference enables them to perform complex analyses in mere seconds, whereas conventional devices might take years. 

Such computational power can allow Aramco to be more accurate in predictive modelling, and also speed up field analysis and improve efficiency in carbon capture.

Initially, the quantum computer at Aramco will operate in “analog mode”, a method suitable for a range of complex computations. 

Within a year of installation, the system will transition to a more advanced hybrid “analog-digital mode”, enhancing its power and broadening its problem-solving capabilities, the statement said. 

Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s executive vice-president of technology and innovation, expressed enthusiasm about integrating high-performance quantum computing capabilities into Saudi Arabia. 

“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,” he said.

The partnership intends to use the quantum computer not only for innovative applications, but also to establish a quantum research hub in Saudi Arabia. 

The agreement also marks a significant step forward for Pasqal’s operations in the kingdom, building on an agreement between the two companies signed in 2022 and the opening of its Saudi office in 2023. 

Globally, the exploration of quantum computing in the energy sector is gaining traction. 

Brazil’s federal oil company, Petrobras, is also testing quantum computing technologies, with the aim of operational readiness within five years.

Ravindra Puranik, oil and gas analyst at the UK consulting firm GlobalData, said in a report: “Although the technology is still in the research and development stage, potential uses in the oil and gas industry are numerous and are likely to expand.  

“The long-standing problems of matching demand with production and optimising supply chains could also be solved using quantum computing.”

Quantum computing could generate nearly $1.3 trillion in value by 2035, the management consultancy McKinsey says.

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