Saudi Aramco discussing investments in India’s Reliance Industries

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser leaves after attending the Saudi-India Forum in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Saudi Aramco discussing investments in India’s Reliance Industries

  • World's biggest oil company targets petrochemicals
  • India is a top investment priority for Saudi Arabia

NEW DELHI: Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser said on Wednesday that the company is in talks with India’s Reliance Industries for possible investments and is seeking other opportunities in the country.

Saudi Aramco signed an agreement in April with a consortium of state-owned Indian refiners to participate in a $44 billion refinery project on the country’s west coast.

“We are looking at additional investment in India so we are in discussions with other companies as well, including Reliance and others,” Nasser said.

“We are looking at it. We are not limited to that investment which is the mega refinery,” Nasser said, referring to the west coast project, which would process 1.2 million bpd of crude and produce 18 million tons per year of petrochemicals.

Nasser is part of the entourage traveling with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in India for a one-day visit.

During his visit, the crown prince met with chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani.

In their meeting, they reviewed promising investment opportunities.

The meeting was also attended by Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih and Public Investment Fund Supervisor Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a meeting with Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani in New Delhi during the crown prince's tour of Asia. (SPA)

Reliance Industries is India’s biggest refining and petrochemicals company and runs a 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) refinery in western India. It plans to expand the capacity to 2 million bpd by 2030, according to plans shared with the Indian government.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, is keen to expand further into oil refining and petrochemicals.

India would provide a fast growing market for oil and fuels and is already a steady buyer of Saudi oil.

“India is an investment priority for Saudi Aramco. India takes from us almost 800,000 barrels a day and by 2040 India’s total consumption will be around 8.2 million barrels per day,” Nasser said.

India is currently world’s third-biggest crude oil consumer with demand of 4.7 million bpd, according to government figures.

However, Aramco is already facing delays for the refinery project, planned for the western state of Maharashtra, as thousands of farmers have refused to surrender land for it.

Reuters reported on Tuesday the Maharashtra government is looking to move the refinery location.

Yousef Al-Benyan, the chief executive officer for SABIC, the Saudi Arabia-based petrochemical company that is the fourth largest in the world, said SABIC wants to expand its business and presence in India.

(With Reuters)


Bahrain to use Huawei in 5G rollout despite US warnings

Updated 26 March 2019
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Bahrain to use Huawei in 5G rollout despite US warnings

  • Washington has warned countries against using Chinese technology
  • ‘We have no concern at this stage as long as this technology is meeting our standards’

DUBAI: Bahrain plans to roll out a commercial 5G mobile network by June, partly using Huawei technology despite the United States’ concerns the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment could be used for spying.
Washington has warned countries against using Chinese technology, saying Huawei could be used by Beijing to spy on the West. China and Huawei have strongly rejected the allegations.
VIVA Bahrain, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian state-controlled telecoms firm STC, last month signed an agreement to use Huawei products in its 5G network, one of several Gulf telecoms companies working with the Chinese company.
“We have no concern at this stage as long as this technology is meeting our standards,” Bahrain’s Telecommunications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed told Reuters on Tuesday when asked about US concerns over Huawei technology.
A senior State Department official said the US routinely urges allies and partners to consider the risks posed by vendors subject to extrajudicial or unchecked compulsion by foreign states.
The US Fifth Fleet uses its base in Bahrain, a Western-allied island state off the Saudi coast, to patrol several important shipping lanes, including near Iran.
Bahrain expects to be one of the first countries to make 5G available nationwide, Mohammed said, although he cautioned it would depend on handset and equipment availability.
Early movers like the United States, China, Japan and South Korea are just starting to roll out their 5G networks, but other regions, such as Europe, are still years away and the first 5G phones are only likely to be released in the second half of this year.
Bahrain’s state-controlled operator Batelco is working with Sweden’s Ericsson on its 5G network, while the country’s third telecoms group Zain Bahrain is yet to announce a technology provider.
No foreign company is restricted by the government from providing equipment for Bahrain’s 5G network, Mohammed said, adding mobile operators choose who they work with.
Australia and New Zealand have stopped operators using Huawei equipment in their networks but the European Union is expected to ignore US calls to ban the Chinese company, instead urging countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks.
Mohammed said the rollout of the 5G network was an “important milestone” for Bahrain, which is hoping investments in technology will help spur its economy, which was hit hard by a recent drop in oil prices.
“It is something we are proud to have,” he said.