Saudi Aramco, the world's largest energy company, is aiming to break into the cloud computing and data analytics market, and it's looking to Google-parent Alphabet and Amazon as potential partners to build a tech hub, according to the oil giant's chief executive.
A partnership with the tech titans would advance Saudi Arabia's goal of diversifying its oil-dependent economy and boost the kingdom's domestic computing muscle as it expands use of data analytics in its legacy energy businesses.
"I think both Google and Amazon and other companies are major players when it comes to cloud computing, and Aramco's definitely looking at all of these companies and looking at investment and growth in these markets in cloud computing," Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told CNBC in an interview at IHS Markit's CERAWeek in Houston.
Alphabet and Aramco have discussed forming a joint venture that would build data centers in the kingdom, The Wall Street Journal reported last month. Sources also told the Journal that Amazon is nearing a $1 billion deal to construct three data centers there.
Nasser said he could not reveal any more about Aramco's discussions with tech firms, except to say that the company is keen on cloud computing and is hunting for opportunities to enter the market.
Saudi Aramco has already been using data analytics to improve its operations, according to Nasser.
"It's something that we have been doing a lot of work on, and we will continue to work with our partners also to expand our operation and increase our efficiency and also cut our costs," he said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old spearheading the kingdom's economic transformation plan, is expected to visit the United States later this month.
Last year, Saudi Arabia announced tens of billions of dollars worth of deals during President Donald Trump's trip to Riyadh and during Prince Mohammed's visit to China.
Saudi Arabia plans to raise about $100 billion by selling shares of Aramco on the public market. The proceeds would underwrite the expansion of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and its plans to diversify its economy.