Saudi oil giant invests in UCD firm

Saudi oil major Aramco has invested in former UCD campus company OxyMem, adding further to the Irish company’s growing shareholder base.

The investment is being made through Aramco’s energy ventures investment vehicle and the size of the spend and the equity stake being taken have not been disclosed.

However, both are thought not to be minor.

Based in Athlone, Co Westmeath, OxyMem is a leading innovator in energy-efficient wastewater treatment, with its technology having the potential to bring waste- water treatment closer to energy neutrality by reducing energy consumption for aeration by up to 75%.

This marks Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures’ first water-focused investment and is aimed at improving Saudi Arabia’s water production/supply needs by reducing energy and costs at its water treatment plants.

OxyMem will use the additional proceeds for further R&D work, to invest in product development, to increase its sales force and to expand its manufacturing capacity.

“We believe this investment will add momentum to our market development goals, particularly in some of the more water-stressed regions,” said OxyMem co-founder and managing director Wayne Byrne.

“I believe that we have an important technology that can make a sizeable contribution in the wastewater market, where there is a significant need for more efficient infrastructure solutions,” he said.

Mr Byrne said OxyMem — which was co-founded by Professor Eoin Casey and Eoin Syron in 2013 and ultimately spun out from UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering — is not seeking any further investment, adding that the Saudi investment will give the company “a good runway well into 2019”, by which time management hopes the company will be profitable.

Up to now, OxyMem has largely been funded by the likes of Enterprise Ireland, Kellysan — the private equity vehicle of engineering giant Kentz co-founder Noel Kelly — and Dow Water and Process Solutions, which is a subsidiary of US multinational giant Dow Chemical. All are equity holders and the latter took a 20% stake in OxyMem in April last year.

Meanwhile, Tullow Oil has named Les Wood as chief financial officer on an interim basis. He has been with the Irish-founded exploration company since 2014, most recently filling the role of group vice president for commercial and finance.

The appointment reflects the resignation from the Tullow board of long-serving chief financial officer Ian Springett, who has stepped down due to ill health.

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