Aramco to start work on Maharashtra refinery after getting land: Saudi minister
The project was originally to be located at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra but was held up because of opposition from the region’s mango farmers, who refused to part with their land. Subsequently, Raigarh was chosen as the new site for the project, which will be the world’s largest greenfield refinery.Updated: Oct 31, 2019 23:47 IST
Saudi Arabia’s state-run Aramco will begin work on a $60-billion oil refinery in Maharashtra once the Indian government allocates land for the project, Saudi commerce minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi said on Thursday.
The issue of the refinery, to be built by Saudi Aramco, Adnoc of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation, figured in talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top Saudi leadership on Tuesday.
The project was originally to be located at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra but was held up because of opposition from the region’s mango farmers, who refused to part with their land. Subsequently, Raigarh was chosen as the new site for the project, which will be the world’s largest greenfield refinery.
“Aramco has taken a decision to build a refinery and that’s a huge investment. The commitment is there, it is announced,” Al Qasabi said.
“We’re waiting for the government of India to choose the land…and the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) said the new regional government (of Maharashtra) has been chosen, and so we expect that in a very short time, the land will be decided. So the ball is now in their (India’s) court,” Qasabi added.
Aramco’s investment in the project will be $35 billion, he said.
Under the new Strategic Partnership Council agreement signed with India, Saudi Arabia is looking to cooperation in several areas, including technology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, tourism and education.
Qasabi said the two sides had talked about establishing an Indian academy of technology in Saudi Arabia.
India is also the largest source of manpower for the kingdom, providing 22% of the workforce.
“We value the Indian people, we appreciate the efforts that they have been making all through the last 60 years. Indian friends and brothers have been a forklift to the Saudi economy,” Al Qasabi said.
“Seventy percent of the Saudi population is below 40…and hi-tech savvy. We can leverage the advantage India has in innovation, technology and financial technology, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises,” he added.
Al Qasabi said there are a lot of synergies, similarities and alignment between the two countries but investments are “always a reaction based on opportunities, feasibilities, return on the investment and stability”.
India, he added, could also serve as a “great platform to East Asia and Central Asia” for Saudi petrochemical products.