Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz on Monday broke ground on the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK), Saudi Aramco announced.
Located in the kingdom's Eastern Province, SPARK is a 50-square-kilometer energy city megaproject that is set to position Saudi Arabia as a global energy, industrial and technology hub, according to Monday's statement from the state-owned oil and gas company.
The first phase of the development will be completed by 2021.
According to the press release, SPARK has already attracted investments from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services in the kingdom’s energy sector. The investment in the first phase of the project is expected to be around $1.6 billion.
"Saudi Aramco is at the heart of SPARK's development, helping bring businesses together to drive efficiencies and promote technological development, manufacturing and exports, as well as build a world-class energy supply chain," it said.
SPARK’s role in enabling localization within the kingdom’s energy supply chain aligns with the strategic goals of Saudi Aramco’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) program, it added.
Saudi Energy Minister and Saudi Aramco Chairman Khalid A. Al-Falih highlighted SPARK's role in unlocking the full potential of the kingdom’s energy resources in line with its economic transformation plan.
"SPARK is one of the country's most ambitious projects, affirming the kingdom's commitment to Vision 2030 by creating thousands of high-skilled jobs, serving as an economic catalyst and advancing Saudi Arabia's strong position in the global energy sector.
"The energy park’s unique value proposition makes it an ideal destination for companies looking to invest in the thriving Saudi Arabian energy services market," he said.
Vision 2030 has several goals, one of the principal ones being the reduction of the country's dependency on oil revenues and the diversification of the economy.
Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin H. Nasser added the King Salman Energy Park would serve as a central gateway to the region's economies, with Saudi Aramco continuing to be "at the heart of the global oil and gas industry".
"We're looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK, as we are investing in business opportunities for international investors and private-sector companies in the kingdom. Together, we are building a world-class energy hub that will accelerate solutions across the value-chain for generations," he said.
When operational, SPARK is estimated to contribute more than $6 billion to the Kingdom's gross domestic product annually and create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.
By Hale Turkes