The Gemini Star oil tanker, owned by Vela International Marine, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, offloads into a single buoy. (Photographer: Dana Smillie/Bloomberg News)

Aramco Wants More India Deals in Plan to Double Refining Output

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is looking for more crude refining partnerships in India, the world’s fastest-growing oil market, as part of a plan to double capacity to produce gasoline and other fuels.

The deals being sought are with state-owned and private refiners, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday. Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and India announced the same day that Aramco, as the company is known, will take a 50 percent stake and provide crude supplies to a proposed $44 billion refinery in the state of Maharashtra on India’s west coast.

State oil companies like Aramco are expanding refining capacity in joint ventures to guarantee demand for their oil in an oversupplied market. Crude from U.S. shale oil fields and from Russian deposits is vying increasingly for buyers in Asia, the biggest market for Middle Eastern producers.

Asia is still Aramco’s largest market, and the company wants to sell as much crude as it can in the region, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters Wednesday in New Delhi.

Price Increase

Even after Saudi Arabia unexpectedly increased official crude pricing for May in Asia, demand in China was not affected, Nasser said. “Saudi Aramco’s nomination to China in May was quite healthy,” he said, referring to the amount of oil allocated for sale there. Aramco last week raised pricing for its Arab Light grade to Asia for May by 10 cents to $1.20 per barrel over the regional benchmark.

Aramco has stakes in 5.4 million barrels a day of refining capacity from Saudi Arabia to South Korea and the U.S. The state-run company aims to double that capacity within a decade even as it battles other crude producers for market share.

Aramco is also in talks with China National Petroleum Corp. to build a 260,000 barrel-a-day refinery in the Asian nation, Nasser, the CEO, said. In a separate project -- Aramco’s 300,000 barrel-a-day refinery project with state-owned China North Industries Group Corp., or Norinco, the company may build a new plant or expand an existing small refinery, he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.