An enormous $44 billion combined oil mega-refinery and petrochemicals complex is now in the works for development on the west coast of India. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was just signed between Saudi Aramco and a large consortium of India-based firms.
Those involved in the consortium just mentioned — Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) — include: Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCl), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL).
As the name implies, the planned mega-facility is slated for development in the state of Maharashtra at Ratnagiri. Plans are now reportedly in the works for the creation of a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the coalition partners just mentioned; as well as plans that may see the Saudi firm bring in another firm as a co-investor in the project.
Once completed, the project would be capable of refining around 1.2 million barrels of crude oil a day; and producing a wide range of different petroleum products (including feedstock for the integrated petrochemicals complex) and fuel types. The petrochemicals complex would accordingly be able to reduce around 18 million tons per year of products, according to projections.
As such, the project would represent one of the two largest oil refineries in the world — with the other (the Reliance Industries Jamnagar Refinery) actually already located in India as well.
The President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin H Nasser, commented on the news: “Investing in India is a key part of our company’s global downstream strategy, and another milestone in our growing relationship with India. The signing marks a significant development in India’s oil and gas sector, enabling a strategic joint venture and investment partnership that will serve India’s fast-growing demand for transportation fuels and chemical products. Participating in this mega project will allow Saudi Aramco to go beyond our crude oil supplier role to a fully integrated position that may help usher in other areas of collaboration, such as refining, marketing, and petrochemicals for India’s future energy demands.”
So, why am I covering this news? Because it seems to represent a doubling down of Saudi Aramco’s interests in the oil and natural gas sector — with a bullseye placed on the fast-growing market and economy of India.
While it’s comforting perhaps to assume that the world is moving invariably and inevitably away from fossil fuels (and in time to stop extreme climate weirding), the reality is that everything from industry, to agriculture, to shipping, is still fundamentally dependent upon such fuels. There are no realistic plans currently in place to reduce this reliance to the degree that would be needed to avoid kicking off dangerous positive feedback loops in the climate system (which may in fact already now be active to some degree).
As such, the plans of Saudi Aramco discussed above aren’t surprising — the world’s appetite for fossil fuels doesn’t seem to have waned at all in recent years.
Given the high degree of subsidization of everyday life in Saudi Arabia, I’m sure that the execs at Saudi Aramco know as well as anyone that the entitlement that drives so much of the modern world is more or less deeply ingrained in most people. “Well, that’s what I’m used to, so I’m not giving it up. It’s non-negotiable.”