India, Saudi Aramco agree to partner on $44 billion refinery-petrochemical project
11 April, 2018, 17:36 | Author: Kristen Mcgee
Paris - Saudi Aramco and French energy company Total SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a "giant petrochemical complex" in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
"This project illustrates our strategy of maximizing the integration of our large refining and petrochemical platforms and of expanding our petrochemical operations from low-priced feedstock, to take advantage of the fast-growing Asian polymer market", Total's chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné noted.
Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said that this project, with an estimated investment of over Rs 3 lakh crore, would bring huge benefits to the region and the entire country in terms of large-scale employment generation, direct and indirect, as well as all-round economic development. In future, Saudi Aramco may also induct a strategic partner by divesting its 50% equity stake in the project.
Saudi Aramco will supply at least 50 percent of the crude to be processed at the planned refinery, officials said.
"We're very much interested in retail.We want to be consumer-facing", he said.
Aramco, which wants to develop its downstream business as the government prepares to sell up to 5% of the world's largest oil firm in an initial public offering in 2018, wants to use oil as a major petrochemicals feedstock.
The world's biggest oil producer Saudi Aramco opened its Asia office here previous year.
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The development also assumes significance in the backdrop of a supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec)-of which Saudi Arabia is a prominent member-and Russian Federation triggering a rally in global oil price.
But Motiva wants to first move into petrochemicals, using abundant natural gas from USA shale fields to make the precursors for plastics, the sources said.
Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud attended the signing ceremony, which is at the end of his two-week visit to the US, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih and his American counterpart Rick Perry. Past year it opened an office in New Delhi.
India has a refining capacity of 232.066 million tonnes, which exceeded the demand of 194.2 million tonnes in 2016-17 fiscal.
He also mentioned about the opening of Aramco Asia's New Delhi Office in 2017 with a mandate to expand the Saudi Aramco's global portfolio in this key economic growth region.
Besides Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) has also shown interest in taking a stake in the project. Iraq displaced Saudi Arabia for the first time on an annual basis in 2017, data compiled by Reuters showed.
Asked what took Saudi Aramco so long to invest in India, he said, "We never looked away from India".
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