Aramco, Total sign $5bn MoU to build "giant" petrochemical project

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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.

The announcements capped a three-week visit to Houston by Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, during a boom in US oil and gas production largely driven by West Texas shale drilling.

The aromatics unit for which Honeywell UOP's technology is being considered under one of the MoUs, would convert benzene and paraxylene, byproducts of gasoline production, into 2 million tons annually of feedstocks for chemicals and plastics. Of this, the IOC's share will be half, with the rest equally shared by HPCL and BPCL.

On retailing, he said Saudi Aramco is "very much interested" as it does not want to remain just a manufacturing company.

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. "Participating in this mega project will allow Saudi Aramco to go beyond our crude oil supplier role to a fully integrated position that may help usher in other areas of collaboration, such as refining, marketing, and petrochemicals for India's future energy demands", he added.

Besides Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) has also shown interest in taking a stake in the project. It is the company's largest research center outside Saudi Arabia. "We want to be consumer facing", he said.

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India said on Monday its state refiners could become cornerstone investors in. "An opening (up of economy) we have never seen before, the transparency, ease of doing business, removing some of the hurdles" has facilitated investment flow, he said.

According to Saudi Aramco, the Satorp refinery is recognised as being one of the most efficient in the world.

The world's biggest oil producer was interested in the 9 million tonnes Bhatinda refinery but exited the project in 1998.

India outlined plans in February to expand its refining capacity by 77 percent to about 8.8 million bpd by 2030. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on sidelines of the International Energy Forum (IEF) conference in the capital earlier today. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, is preparing for an initial public offering of its state-run producer and leading efforts by OPEC to curb output and eliminate a global glut that spurred oil's decline.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.