Exchange of MoU files between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Saudi Arabias Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih (Source: PTI)

India Is Top Investment Destination For Saudi Arabia, Says Al-Falih

Saudi Arabia said India is its No. 1 priority for foreign investments as the oil-rich Kingdom’s companies are looking at becoming household names with projects in refining, petrochemicals and fertilisers.

Speaking at the Saudi-India Forum, Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih said he was excited about reforms and the opening up of the market in the country and is keen to partner in the growth.

“India is on its way to become the second-largest economy in the next two to three decades,” he said, offering Saudi Arabia as a platform for further growth into markets in the Middle East and Africa.

Saudi Arabia has been India’s main crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas supplier.

“Energy, of course, is a major bridge for Saudi Arabia and India,” Al-Falih said. “(But) We are not just about trade. We are not marketers or sellers. We are investors. We want Saudi Aramco and SABIC become household names in India.”

Aramco has already signed a pact to take an equity stake in a mega $44-billion oil refinery planned to be set up on the coast of Maharashtra by 2025. SABIC is looking at setting up petrochemical projects in the country.

Falih said his country has started spending money on the planned refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Maharashtra, which will be the largest single place investment.

“Saudi Aramco is also looking at other opportunities. One investment no matter how largest is not big enough to meet the intentions that we have for India,” he said. “India is our number one priority for investment outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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The minister said Saudi companies are looking at manufacturing chemicals and fertilisers as well as investing in infrastructure projects in India. Power plants, including renewable energy units, are also on their radar. He, however, offered no further details.

Later talking to reporters, he hoped the oil market would be balanced by April and that there would be no gap in supplies due to the U.S. sanctions on Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ members Iran and Venezuela.

“April will be an important line post of the journey for market stability in keeping supply and demand closely aligned and getting inventories to where we want them to be, which is around the five-year average,” he said. “We hope by April the market will be in balance,” Falih said, adding that the commitment to a global supply-cutting deal was “unquestionable”.

Falih, who is part of the high-level delegation traveling with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a day-long visit to India, said: “The summit has been one of great engagement of great leaders of two great nations that will deepen engagement between two of the most influential members of G-20.”

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