UAE keen on Indian refining and petchem, storing crude oil

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is looking to expand its presence in India by investing in refining and petrochemicals and strategic petroleum reserves, said Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ADNOC.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Petrotech 2019, he said, “India is very high on our strategic agenda and expanding our strategic reserve in India will be an item on the agenda to be discussed with our friends and counterparts in India."

India, the world's third largest energy consumer, has drawn the UAE's attention. The UAE is looking at investing in refining and petrochemical projects as well as stocking more crude in India.

“We are looking at the expanding investment portfolio in downstream sectors, refining and petrochemicals. We are only looking at strategic partnerships given that we can also bring our own crude. India is not only an important market for us, India is a very strategic partner. We will continue to always look for ways to enhance our avenues of cooperation," Al Jaber said.

Last June ADNOC and Saudi ARAMCO had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for participating in the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd, which is building the 60 million tonne refinery project in Maharashtra.

The mega refinery to be set up with an estimated investment of ?3 lakh crore will be able to process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day.

The refinery project, which was announced in December 2015, was to be commissioned by 2022 but land acquisition delays have pushed the deadline to 2025.

Commenting on the progress made on the project, Al Jaber said, “We are still at an early stage, we are still in the process of defining the scope and scale of the project. We are working very closely with our partners Saudi Aramco as well as our counterparts in India."

RRPCL is a joint venture among the three state-run oil marketing companies--Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. Aramco and ADNOC will together own 50 per cent of the planned project but a division between them has not yet been announced. The oil marketing companies will together own 50%.

He added that UAE is also looking at storing more crude oil in Indian storages. Currently, the UAE supplies a small quantity of oil to India. Last November, India signed an initial pact to lease out a part of its underground strategic oil storage at Padur in Karnataka to ADNOC for storing crude oil.

India has built 5.33 million tonnes of emergency storage -- sufficient to meet its oil needs for 9.5 days -- in underground rock caverns in Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It has allowed foreign oil companies to store oil in the storages on the condition that the stockpile can be used by New Delhi in case of an emergency.

Aramco has also expressed its desire to venture into fuel retailing in India.

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