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Report: Saudi Aramco in talks for refinery stake in India

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, is in discussions with Indian refiners and hopes to seal a joint venture deal by 2018, Amin Nasser, the state-owned oil producer's CEO, told Reuters Oct. 8.

"We are hoping to land on a JV [joint venture] sometime... We are in serious discussions," Nasser said at the India Energy Forum by Cera Week in New Delhi.

Aramco wants a stake in the planned 1.2-million-barrels-per-day refinery on India's west coast, India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in June.

Nasser said Aramco is also interested in investing in the downstream sector -- refining, petrochemicals and fuel retailing, including lubricants.

Saudi Arabia is competing with Iraq to be India's top oil supplier. Iraq displaced it for a fifth month in a row in August, data compiled by Reuters showed.

In its bid to expand its presence in India, Aramco inaugurated a new office in New Delhi on Oct. 8.

"We need to be here," said Nasser. He said India grew 8% in 2016 compared to the 1.5% global growth in energy.

The world's biggest oil producer is investing in refineries abroad to ensure demand for its crude and expand its market share ahead of its initial public offering in 2018.

Aramco plans to float up to 5% of its shares in 2018 to raise as much as $100 billion, in what could be the world's largest IPO.