May 20, 2024

Saudi oil and gas giant Aramco is buying a quantum computer from French startup Pasqal

The French startup will deploy and operate the device in Saudi Arabia from the second half of 2025

French startup Pasqal has sold a quantum computer to Saudi Arabian oil and gas giant Aramco. It’s the trillion-dollar company’s first purchase of a device of this kind, which it will use to explore how quantum technologies could improve efficiencies in the energy sector.

Pasqal, which is backed by Aramco, will install, maintain and operate the quantum computer. It is set to be deployed in Saudi Arabia in the second half of 2025.

With 200 qubits, the device will be the largest that Pasqal has commercialised so far. The company has sold two quantum computers in the past — both of which were just over 100 qubits — to EU-backed high-performance computing centres in France and Germany. 


Qubits, or ‘quantum bits’, are tiny particles that carry quantum information. Their number partly determines the capabilities of the quantum computer.

The latest announcement positions Pasqal competitively against other companies that commercialise quantum computers: US tech giant IBM sells a 127-qubit quantum processor, while Boston-based QuEra offers a 256-qubit computer.  

Only a few companies around the world build and commercialise quantum computers, which typically sell for tens of millions of dollars. Given the immaturity of the technology, buyers are usually research institutes and universities rather than corporations.

The deal with Aramco shows that “no longer confined to theory, [quantum computing] is transitioning to real-world applications,” according to Pasqal cofounder Georges-Olivier Reymond.

What will Aramco use the quantum computer for?

With 200 qubits, there is very little that a quantum computer can do. Companies that acquire them tend to use the devices experimentally, to identify which use cases seem most promising and prepare for when more powerful devices hit the market.

Pasqal and Aramco are planning to leverage the device to find new applications in the energy sector. This could include finding ways to optimise processes, improve logistics and streamline the supply chain.

Pasqal has already partnered with French energy supplier EDF to develop quantum algorithms that could optimise the fabrication of electric car batteries.

Going eastward

Aramco’s VC arm backed Pasqal in its €100m Series B last year. The French startup also established an office in Saudi Arabia in 2023.

The sale and deployment of a quantum computer is a reflection of the company’s ambition to cement its footprint in the Middle East. Pasqal has presence in eight countries — France, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Canada, the US, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

For a capex-intensive startup that is already thinking about its next round of fundraising, the Middle East could also be a strategic region to expand to, with several deep-pocketed VCs that are taking an increasing interest in European early-stage companies.


Aramco Ventures is the most active Gulf investor in Europe, according to Dealroom data, with 17 deals in the region in the past two years.

Daphné Leprince-Ringuet

Daphné Leprince-Ringuet is a reporter for Sifted based in Paris and covering French tech. You can find her on X and LinkedIn