April 11 (UPI) -- Saudi Aramco said Wednesday it followed a mega deal with French energy company Total with a $44 billion refinery agreement with India.
"Investing in India is a key part of Saudi Aramco's global downstream strategy, and another milestone in our growing relationship with India," President and CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement.
The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known commonly as Saudi Aramco, signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of oil companies in India to jointly develop and build a refinery complex in the western coastal state of Maharashtra.
At its peak, the refinery would be able to process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. With an estimated cost of $44 billion, the refinery would be among the world's largest and designed to meet India's growing appetite for fuels and petrochemicals.
Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expect India's economy to grow 7.2 percent this year, after recording 6.4 percent last year. India is facing economic growth issues, however, because of higher crude oil prices.
The country's trade deficit hit $16.3 billion in January, its highest level in more than five years. Year-over-year, Indian imports of petroleum, crude oil and petroleum products increased more than 40 percent, OPEC estimated.
The Indian agreement follows a similar arrangement between Saudi Aramco and French supermajor Total, who committed to invest $9 billion on a petrochemical complex in Saudi Arabia.
Recent memoranda were also signed in New York between Saudi entities and U.S. drilling services companies, defense contractor Raytheon and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The U.S. agreements are worth a combined $10 billion.