When Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser cut the ceremonial ribbon in New Delhi to inaugurate the state-owned global energy giant’s newest office last year, the event captured only a smattering of headlines. That launch, however, should be seen as a defining moment in a relationship accelerating at dizzying speed, leading one Indian columnist to describe Saudi-India ties as “one of the most happening bilateral relationships of 2018.”
The feeling seems to be mutual in Riyadh. India was selected as the guest of honor at the 2018 Janadriyah Festival — a culture and heritage gathering held every year near the Saudi capital. Saudi Arabian Airlines also did some ribbon-cutting recently, inaugurating a new office in New Delhi in February, while Saudi Basic Industries Corp is eyeing a major stake in a petrochemicals plant in western India.
In April of this year, Saudi Aramco announced a blockbuster deal to take a 50 percent stake in a proposed $44 billion mega-refinery in western India that will be capable of refining 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. In the summer, the deal grew even sweeter for India when it was announced that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company would join Aramco in jointly taking the stake. What could be better for a rising, energy-hungry nation of some 1.3 billion than joining forces with two of the world’s most reliable oil suppliers?