Petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan wants to make India a refining and petrochemicals hub and is wooing international energy majors such as Saudi Aramco and Sabic to invest in India’s refining and petrochemicals sector.
“India already has big refining and petrochemical capacities by companies like Reliance Industries and Essar Oil... I’m asking energy majors to tie up with companies in India to set up similar large-scale capacities and use India as a base for further exports to Japan, Korea, China and other South East Asian countries, which are the markets for these products,” Pradhan told HT. “India’s proximity to the region can be explored to cater to the emerging demand for refined products and chemicals.”
The minister said Saudi Arabia’s leading companies such as Saudi Aramco and Sabic are keen to invest in India’s oil and gas sector. They may even be looking at a petrochemicals manufacturing facility in the country, according to oil ministry officials.
Saudi Aramco is the world’s biggest oil producing company. Sabic, the largest petrochemical firm, has a polymer R&D centre at Bangalore. Saudi Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayana al-Saud, during his visit to India a year back, had unveiled the $100-million technology centre spread over 46 acres. Global energy major Shell also has an R&D facility at Bangalore.The $50-billion Sabic has a wide array of interests: chemicals and intermediates, industrial polymers, fertilisers and metals, plastics, flame-retardant fabric and bullet-proof glass. Its customers include Apple, Harley Davidson and Range Rover.
“Our government’s decision to free auto fuels such as diesel from government control and make fuel prices market-linked has been appreciated world over and leading energy companies are keen to invest in the country,” Pradhan said. The petrochemicals sector offers tremendous growth opportunities for investors.
“We as a country need to look beyond our (buyer-seller) relationship with these oil and gas producers… this limited relationship needs to be expanded,” he added.
Pradhan said India has in-built advantages as a large market sitting close to oil and gas producing countries, apart from its large intellectual base.
For the Gulf nations, India, which is in itself a large market, can also be a springboard to access several large markets such as Korea, China, Japan and south east Asia.