New Delhi : Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, is interested in acquiring a stake in India’s proposed Rs 1.8 lakh-crore refinery in Maharashtra and a Rs 33,000-crore petrochemical complex in Andhra Pradesh, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday.

After talks with Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih, he said the oil major is also interested in partnering in the second phase of strategic oil reserves India plans to build shortly.

“We have moved beyond mere envisaging of interest and now modalities are being discussed,” he said without elaborating.

Besides Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) has also showed interest in the world’s biggest refinery-cum-petrochemical complex that India plans to build in Maharashtra. State-run Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) are partners in the 60 million tonnes and adjacent petrochem complex.

In Kakinada, state-owned HPCL and GAIL India are looking at building a 1.5 million tonnes capacity petrochemical complex at the cost of Rs 33,000 crore.

“They are more than interested,” he said. Pradhan said Saudi Arabia is India’s most reliable partner, supplying close to a fifth of country’s oil needs.

Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s flagship oil firm, sells 36.5 million tonnes of oil annually to India.

It had previously been interested in sett9ing up new greenfield refineries in India but none of the interests materialised. The world’s biggest oil producer was interested in the 9 mt Bhatinda refinery but exited the project in 1998. Thereafter, the refinery was set up by HPCL in joint venture with steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal. Saudi Aramco had also initially shown interest in IOC’s 15 mt Paradip refinery in Odisha but walked out of the project in 2006. The Indian Oil Corp (IOC) set up the refinery on its own thereafter.

The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex on the west coast is expected to be commissioned by 2022.

Meanwhile, India asked the world’s largest oil producer Saudi Arabia for a “reasonable” oil pricing that balances the interest of producer and consuming nations. After talks with visiting Saudi oil minister Khalid Al Falih, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said India is a price sensitive market and so “we must get reasonable price for crude oil and LPG” imported from the Opec nation.

This fiscal it will import 36.5 million tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia. Also 25 per cent of LPG also comes from the Gulf nation. “What we discussed was that price of crude oil is such that it does not result in a loss to producers and at the same time protects consuming nation’s interest,” he said.