India seeks investment from Saudi Arabia for strategic oil reserve

Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih met Dharmendra Pradhan on a mega oil refinery cum petrochemical complex in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district.

Published: 11th March 2019 03:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2019 08:41 PM   |  A+A-

Oil Refinery

An employee walks inside the premises of an oil refinery of Essar Oil, which runs India's second biggest private sector refinery, in Vadinar in the western state of Gujarat, India. | Reuters

By Online Desk

NEW DELHI: With an aim to resurrect a $44 billion (Rs 3.08 lakh crore) refinery project, India has invited Saudi Arabia to invest in the former's strategic oil reserve. 

Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih, on his second visit to India in three weeks, discussed with its Indian counterpart Dharmendra Pradhan on the 60 million tonne (MT) a year mega oil refinery cum petrochemical complex in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district. The initially allocated land was denotified by the state government earlier this month, as part of the electoral understanding between the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena.

"The (two) ministers reviewed various Saudi investment proposals in the Indian oil and gas sector, including the urgent steps to be taken to expedite the implementation of the first joint venture West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical Project in Maharashtra, estimated to cost  $44 billion, which will be the largest greenfield refinery in the world," an oil ministry statement said on Sunday.

While an alternate site of the project hasn't been identified, the statement did not mention the steps to be taken for implementing the project which will have a 50 per cent stake of Saudi Aramco and its partner ADNOC of UAE. The remaining is held by public sector oil firms - IOC, BPCL and HPCL with Pradhan inviting Saudi Arabian government to invest in the oil reserves.

The official statement said: "Saudi Arabia's participation in Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) program was also discussed." India has built 5.33 million tonne of emergency oil storage enough to meet needs for 9.5 days, in underground rock caverns in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Foreign oil companies have also been permitted to store oil in the storages on the condition that India can use the stock during an emergency. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has hired 3.25 million tonne of storage from the facilities in Karnataka.

India also plans to build an additional 6.5 million tonne facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, which is expected to take the emergency cover against any supply disruption by another 11.5 days. India also has the first right to deny to sell the stored crude oil in case of an emergency.

The statement said that the visit of the Saudi Oil Minister was a follow up to the first State visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud last month. "Both the ministers agreed to take concrete steps for early implementation of the decisions taken in the oil and gas sector during the visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to India last month," it said, further adding that the visit shows the "intensifying engagement between the two countries in the hydrocarbon sector."

(With inputs from PTI)

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