Saudi Aramco is negotiating the acquisition of a majority stake in a massive oil refining complex set to be built in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, India’s Economic Times reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter.
The Saudi company is insisting on the marketing rights over the entire fuels and petrochemicals output of the 60-million-tons-a-year refinery. It also wants assurances that the complex will use mostly Saudi crude for processing, the sources said.
The refinery, which is currently 50-percent owned by Indian Oil Corporation, and by Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum with 25 percent each, is estimated to cost US$46.1 billion (3 trillion rupees). It should be completed by 2022 and will have a daily throughput capacity of 300,000 bpd of crude.
This is certainly an extremely lucrative opportunity for the Kingdom, which is actively seeking new investment opportunities outside crude oil production. Refining is an obvious diversification direction, and Aramco has been pursuing it actively in the last couple of years.
The company is paying Asia special attention as the region that is driving global crude oil demand growth. Aramco already has solid financial interests in the refining industry of Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. It is also looking to buy stakes in existing Indian refineries.
India is the natural center of gravity for oil producers. Its oil demand is set to grow at a faster rate than neighbor China, and it still imports most of its crude from Middle Eastern producers, while China is diversifying away from the Middle East. This makes India the perfect focus of an investment strategy aimed at ensuring a market for Saudi crude and possibly marketing rights to refined products for additional revenues.
As Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih recently said on Aramco’s Indian push, “All of these are illustrated commitments by the Kingdom and the company to be not only a supplier, but an investor in India at an unmatched scale.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.