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Saudi Aramco said Sunday India was a priority destination for investment and that it was keen to play a bigger role as a crude and LPG supplier to feed an anticipated rise in demand.

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"Today, India is an investment priority," President and CEO Amin H. Nasser said while inaugurating Aramco India's new office in Gurugram, a suburb of the capital New Delhi.

"As reliable suppliers of oil and LPG for decades, we are committed to providing those additional supplies that India will need," he added.

India's Oil and Skills Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the event, said that establishing a stronger presence in India would help boost ties with Saudi Arabia.



"Aramco is a key partner for Indian refiners and there's great potential to take our partnership to a higher level beyond the supply of crude oil, refined products and LPG to new areas of research and development, engineering and technology. In return, India can offer competitive cost and capacity advantages," Pradhan said.

Saudi Arabia is India's second-largest supplier of crude oil after Iraq, accounting for about 19% of the its imports. It also accounts for 29% of India's LPG imports.

During fiscal 2016-17 (April-March), India imported about 39.5 million mt of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, according to the oil ministry.

"Last year, India's oil consumption grew by over 8% compared with global growth of 1.5%, making it the third largest consumer of oil," Nasser said.

This growth is expected to continue, and will outpace China's for the third year running in 2017, according to Platts Analytics.

"By 2040, India is likely to be among the fastest growing oil markets, with demand almost doubling to about 10 million b/d", he added, while its gas demand would also more than triple.

"That is why I am convinced that the world's fastest growing energy consumer and the world's largest, lowest cost and most reliable oil supplier, must elevate their relationship to a much higher plane," he said.

This would mean creating a fully integrated business in India, from oil, refining and marketing to manufacturing petrochemicals and lubes in the country.


STRATEGIC LINKS


Nasser said that as high volume of new business opportunities awaits to be unlocked from potential synergy between Saudi Aramco and Indian entities, Aramco's India office would provide the vital strategic link between the company's headquarters in Dhahran and New Delhi.

Aramco India plans to also introduce services for the oil sector, including engineering, IT operations and security, the company said.

It intends to partner with Indian companies and set up integrated business ventures in the hydrocarbons value chain, which was expected to support the "Make in India" initiative, it added.

Nasser is visiting India to attend the India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK, which will be attended by OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo as well.

--Ratnajyoti Dutta, newsdesk@sglobal.com
--Sambit Mohanty, sambit.mohanty@spglobal.com
--Adal Mirza, adal.mirza@spglobal.com