Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia sends blue ammonia to South Korea

Saudi-South Korean energy and economic cooperation is increasing. Other Gulf states are also exploring blue ammonia, and the energy source has both benefits and downsides.
A picture taken on Nov. 3, 2019, shows a sign of Saudi Aramco's initial public offering.

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned energy company announced Tuesday a major blue ammonia shipment to South Korea.

Aramco and the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) said they shipped 25,000 metric tons of blue ammonia to South Korea’s Lotte Fine Chemicals. The shipment left Jubail Saudi Arabia back in November, SABIC said in a press release. 

What it means: Blue ammonia is an energy source that is created by separating hydrogen from carbon dioxide via carbon capture. The separated hydrogen is then combined with methane to produce blue ammonia. 

For comparison, blue hydrogen is also made by using carbon capture to separate hydrogen from carbon dioxide. Blue hydrogen is not combined with methane.  

Both blue ammonia and blue hydrogen can be made from natural gas. 

Blue ammonia has a lot of potential cost and environmental benefits due to the decarbonization aspect of producing it. On the other hand, producing blue ammonia requires a significant amount of energy, and carbon emissions are still released, Cornell University professor Robert Howarth said last year. Ammonia is also toxic. 

Why it matters: Saudi-South Korea relations have strengthened this year. In January, Aramco signed memorandums of understanding with several South Korean companies, among them Lotte Fine Chemicals. Some of the agreements were related to ammonia. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also visited South Korea in November. Aramco announced a $7 billion investment in a South Korean petrochemical facility at the time. 

Saudi Arabian exports to South Korea increased significantly last year, though Saudi Arabia's imports from the East Asian country have decreased over the last few years. The following is a graphic showing trade between Saudi Arabia and South Korea over the past five years, per Trading Economics. 

Fuel, oil and related materials were the biggest Saudi exports to South Korea in 2021, while vehicles were the main South Korean export to Saudi Arabia that year, according to Trading Economics. 

Saudi Arabia is not new to blue ammonia. In 2020, Aramco sent blue ammonia to Japan

Know more: Other Gulf countries are also exploring blue ammonia. In August, the state-owned QatarEnergy announced it would build a major blue ammonia production facility. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company also shipped blue ammonia to Japan in June. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial