"The Asian continent, for example, accounts for 40 percent of global energy consumption and has a population of five billion people with a low average income (about 7-8 thousand dollars) compared to developed countries, so the capabilities of developing countries must be considered," Nasser said.

In response to a question from Sky News Arabia, Nasser revealed, on the sidelines of the eighth edition of the OPEC International Conference held in Vienna, that Aramco plans to produce 11 million tons of blue hydrogen in the first phase.

Although Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser stressed the importance of hydrogen in the future of energy, he ruled out that this will be in the near term due to the challenges it faces, foremost of which are the high cost, infrastructure, and technology it needs in the end-use phase, i.e. the technologies required to reconvert it when it reaches its final destination from ammonia to hydrogen.

Ammonia is classified as low emission because the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during production has previously been captured and used in refining and processing applications.

To illustrate the high cost of hydrogen at the moment, Nasser said that the cost of blue hydrogen is between $200-250 per barrel of oil equivalent, while the cost of green hydrogen is estimated at about $400 per barrel of oil equivalent.

The Saudi company aims to export blue hydrogen — made by converting natural gas and capturing carbon dioxide emitted in the process — on a large scale, starting in 2030.

Aramco and SABIC Agri-Nutrients received the world's first independent certifications recognizing the production of blue hydrogen and blue ammonia in August 2022.

TUV Rheinland, a leading provider of systems testing, inspection and certification services in accordance with existing international standards, has awarded certification to SABIC Agri-Nutrients in Jubail and Aramco Jubail Refinery Company (SASREF), which is wholly owned by Saudi Aramco.

In 2020, Saudi Aramco, in collaboration with SABIC, sent the first shipment of low-emission ammonia to Japan in a pilot project.

Following are the key points of the meeting with Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser:

  • Energy transition will cost the world up to $270 trillion by 2050
  • 40 percent of global energy consumption comes from Asia
  • The timeline for the energy transition should make sense
  • We plan to produce 11 million tons of blue hydrogen in the first phase
  • Hydrogen will play a key role in the future, but not in the near term
  • We need time for hydrogen to become available at an affordable cost