Saudi Aramco plans huge investments

New Delhi, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2006, 05:30am hrs
The world's largest oil producer and the largest oil exporter Saudi Aramco is considering a substantial investment in oil refining and marketing in India, a company official said. In recent times, Saudi Aramco has made substantial investments in Japan (Showa Shell), Philippines (Petron Corp) and South Korea (S-Oil Corp).

The company has also asked Indian oil majors to invest in Saudi Aramco's refinery to be built in Saudi Arabia. What we're looking for is a project that is substantial, Ali Al-Muhared, vice president, corporate planning, told reporters in New Delhi. We consider India and its market very important to us.

State-owned Aramco is exploring ``the possibility of establishing a joint partnership in India's refining and marketing sector,'' the company's chief executive, Abdallah Jum'ah, was quoted as saying in a company statement on Jan. 16. Al-Muhared is in India to attend the Indian Oil & Gas Conference organized by Conference Connections. India currently buys more than a quarter of its crude requirement from Saudi Arabia which is keen on expanding economic ties with India and Indian companies. Saudi Aramco is working on building a brand new 4 lakh bpd refinery for which investments by Indian companies have been sought.

India currently imports 24 mm tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia. About 70 % of India's crude oil requirements are met by imports. The government plans to invest up to $ 25 billion in acquiring oil assets globally.

THE KING IS ON THE MOVE

FEVER PITCH: Saudi Aramco wants joint partnership in the refining and marketing sector of India, and tells India's oil majors to invest in its refinery

EARLIER BRUSH WITH THE SAUDIS:
HPCL, IOC
24 mm tonne
India's crude oil imports from Saudi

Earlier, in 1992 when India had offered to give away controlling stake in state-owned oil firm Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd, Aramco was keen on bidding for the stake. However, opposition from the Left parties and trade unions forced the government to pull back the proposal.

Last year, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) was also keen on setting up a refinery in Saudi Arabia. A member of HPCL had toured Dammam to discuss the details of the joint venture proposal with Saudi Aramco.

In March, 2005, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Aramco as part of the country's plan for long-term oil contracts with the Kingdom. The tie-up was for cooperation in areas like production of cleaner fuels, refinery process improvements, corrosion control and biomediation.