Saudi Aramco has launched an investment arm to buy into companies that have developed technologies of strategic importance to Saudi Arabia and speed their deployment in the kingdom, the state-run energy group said. Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures LLC (SAEV) plans to invest in start-up and high-growth ventures offering new technologies to the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors, renewables, energy efficiency and water supply, the company said on Monday. “As we continue to address long-term energy challenges, SAEV will help us more effectively engage with the global community of innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Khalid al-Falih, chief executive of Aramco. The world’s largest oil producer, which has been pumping close to a billion dollars worth of crude a day at times this year, gave no detail of the funds available to its investment arm. Individual investments were expected to range from $1 million to $30 million per company, SAEV said, depending on the stage of development, size of opportunity, strategic relevance to Saudi Aramco and capital intensity. “Typically we reserve around 50 percent of investment in any one company for follow-on financing,” SAEV said on its website. “We seek minority equity ownership positions and in most cases seek board seats or board observer rights.” The world’s reliance on Saudi oil has eased due to a surge in North American oil production allowing Aramco to focus on meeting its own gas requirements. Aramco has instead been focusing over the last few years on finding enough gas to fuel a domestic industrial boom and could speed development of its own unconventional reserves by buying into North American specialist companies. Every major western oil company has either bought or teamed up with an independent North American unconventional gas pioneer over the last four years so they can quickly absorb years of knowledge gained by the smaller specialists and grab acreage in the world’s biggest gas market. With Saudi Arabia struggling to find enough fresh water for its booming population, planning huge solar power plants, and already experimenting with carbon capture projects on its vast oilfields, SAEV says it is also likely to invest in cutting edge companies in these areas.