Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil exporter, is reportedly planning to set up an office in India by December this year to increase its crude oil sales in the country.
The move probably comes in the wake of Saudi Arabia's falling share in India's total crude oil imports; India is the world's fourth largest oil consumer.
"With the new office, Aramco will integrate its existing operations in India run through Aramco Overseas with the crude sales business," a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia has been the leading supplier of crude oil to India in the past 14 years, as revealed by Indian government data. But the kingdom's share in "India's crude intake" declined to nearly 18.5% in 2014-15, compared to about 25% recorded a decade earlier.
During the same period, India's oil refining capacity doubled to around 4.6 million barrels per day.
India remains a "bright spot" due to its rising oil needs, even as demand continues to slide in other countries, the source said.
Top oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia have been trying to increase their share in the global oil market due to a slump in crude oil prices since June last year. Crude oil prices have almost halved due to oversupply since the middle of this year.
"Aramco's office in New Delhi will be similar to the one in Tokyo and Seoul which also look into supply of oil to these countries," said another source.
Aramco has set up such offices in Korea, Japan, China and Singapore.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia opened Aramco Overseas in India but its operations are confined to engineering, material requirement and inspection-related activity, the company's website shows.
It is pertinent here that Kuwait Petroleum Corp also has an office in India to take of its crude sales to the country.
India imports about 80% of its crude oil imports; in 2014-15, it spent $112.74 billion to import 89.43 million tonnes of crude oil.