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Saudi Arabia’s Energy Capital Group invests in US

Jul 27, 2023

Saudi Arabian fund Energy Capital Group has invested in Pure Lithium, a US-based firm specialising in lithium metal batteries, as part of its plan to support disruptive technology.

The fund-raising for the company was led by board member and billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland, Energy Capital Group said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Saudi company is engaged in discussions with potential investors and partners in the kingdom to support Pure Lithium’s expansion in the region, it added.

The financial value of the funding round was not disclosed.

"Lithium metal batteries have long been regarded as the ultimate energy storage solution slated to displace today’s lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries," the statement said.

Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery used in electric vehicles and a number of portable electronics.

“This investment could significantly disrupt the Saudi market with Pure Lithium’s innovative technology, which represents a major breakthrough in the lithium and battery industries,” said Ali Alturki, founder and managing partner of Energy Capital Group.

Pure Lithium plans to establish an entire supply chain in Saudi Arabia, using its proprietary technology, which helps in extracting lithium from oil field brines, a by-product of oil and gas production.

“We are thrilled with Energy Capital Group’s investment in Pure Lithium. They recognise the value and impact we can have in the kingdom by unlocking oilfield brines to create a battery-ready electrode, eliminating 90 per cent of the current associated costs,” said Emilie Bodoin, founder and chief executive of Pure Lithium.

“Additionally, we are excited to develop the safest battery for the climate of the kingdom, and further empower the kingdom to utilise our technology on a large scale.”

Energy Capital Group is an energy related services fund linked to Aramco’s IKTVA (in kingdom total value add) and Vision 2030 programmes, with a focus on addressing current supply market constraints to the energy and industrial value chain and asset base, according to its website.

Energy Capital Group said it could potentially form a joint venture with Pure Lithium in the future.

“Energy Capital Group is well-positioned to support the growth of the company and contribute to the development of the lithium and battery industries in the region,” the fund said.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, is in the middle of a major economic diversification drive under its Vision 2030 agenda.

Ceer – Saudi Arabia's first EV brand – was launched last year, as the country aims to boost its manufacturing sector under its diversification plan.

It will design, manufacture and sell a range of vehicles for consumers in Saudi Arabia and the Mena region – including sedans and sports utility vehicles.

The brand’s first electric vehicles are scheduled to be available in 2025.

Ceer is expected to attract more than 562 million Saudi riyals ($149 million) of foreign direct investment and create up to 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In June, EV maker Lucid Group raised about $3 billion through a stock offering, with the majority of that coming from its current investor, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

The PIF, which owns about 60.5 per cent of Lucid, agreed to purchase more than 265 million shares of the car maker's common stock in a private placement for about $1.8 billion.

Global electric car sales are set to surge by 35 per cent this year, helped by government subsidies and the tightening of carbon dioxide emissions standards, according to the International Energy Agency.

Electric car sales are projected to reach 14 million in 2023 from 10 million last year, the Paris-based agency said in its Global Electric Vehicle Outlook in April.