Saudi Aramco is set to take a 20 per cent stake in Reliance Industries’ refining and petrochemical business. The deal is thought to be worth about $15 billion and includes a long-term agreement for the former to supply the joint venture assets with 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Alan Gelder, vice president of refining and chemicals at Wood Mackenzie, said: “Our analysis indicates that the total earnings from the combined refinery sites in India are the highest in Asia outside the mega-refiners of Sinopec and PetroChina.

“Crude supplies of 500,000 b/d represent about 40 per cent of Reliance’s crude intake, significantly higher than the stake taken, although Saudi Aramco historically supplied 20 per cent of Reliance’s crude oil requirements.”

The deal follows last year’s acquisition of SABIC and SASREF, and the memorandum of understanding Aramco signed this year to acquire a 9 per cent stake in Zhejiang Petrochemical’s 800,000 b/d integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Zhoushan, China.

“Saudi Aramco continues to show keen interest in accessing the Indian market, which has the strongest long-term growth prospects,” said Gelder.

Reliance is also a major supplier of polyester and intermediates, as well as operating steam crackers and owning polyolefins capacity at another four locations in India.