By Subhash Narayan
World’s largest oil company Aramco remains committed on its investment plan in India, including a $15 billion deal with Reliance Industries, even though Covid-19 pandemic has made life difficult for oil companies with suppressed demand and falling oil prices and wide scale erosion in valuations.
Replying to a query from IANS, Aramco said that it remains interested in all its Indian investment plan and will give appropriate updates soon. This would include proposed $15 billion investment in RIL’s refinery and chemicals business.
Doubts were raised about investment plan of Saudi Aramco after the oil giant reported a 50 per cent fall in net income for the first half of its financial year, reflecting a devastating year for oil markets and the global economy at large as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
“Aramco continues to explore potential growth opportunities in Asia including India,” the company said in an e-mail reply.
“We are still engaging in discussions with Reliance Industries and will make appropriate updates as and when necessary,” it added.
Apart from the Reliance deal, Saudi Aramco has expressed its desire to participate in several other ventures in India, the worlds third biggest oil consumer.
There have been government-to-government discussions for Aramco to pick up entire government’s stake in state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. This would give the Saudi entity presence in vast Indian retail market with huge potential for growth.
Indian government is also looking at Aramco’s investment in $60 billion oil refinery proposed in Maharashtra as well get its investment oil marketing and retailing in the country. The oil giant is also exploring options to put some of its oil in India’s strategic oil reserve.
Despite the concerns for the oil market, analysts have said Aramco was better prepared to weather market volatility, owing to its size and scale, its low cost of production and solid free cash flow generation in a weak oil price environment. This is good news for its investment plan for Asia.
(Subhash Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)