As relations between Riyadh and Islamabad has taken a dip recently, the future of Saudi investment in a refinery in Pakistan remains uncertain.
Speaking to The News International, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Power and Petroleum, Tabish Gauhar has said that Saudi Arabia will not install a refinery at Gwadar but has indicated to set up a refinery along with a petrochemical chemical complex somewhere at Balochistan's Hub or near Karachi."However, there is no mentionable progress from Aramco as to when and where the deep conversion refinery with the capacity to refine 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil will be set up," he said.
In 2019, Saudia Arabia had signed MoUs of USD 20 billion in various sectors of the economy and from this amount, announced to invest USD 10 billion in refinery and petrochemical complex at Gwadar.
The SAPM said that Aramco conducted a feasibility report according to which it found that setting up the refinery at Gwadar was not feasible, but said another refinery can be established at Balochistan's Hub or near Karachi in the next five years.
Citing official sources, The News International reported that the oil facility was withdrawn amid worsening ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the recent past. Saudi Aramco, at that time, is reported to have indicated to Pakistan authorities to ask Imran Khan to contact the top Saudi leadership on the decision about setting up of the refinery and petrochemical complex.
However, Pakistan's Foreign Office had then suggested that it was not the right time to contact Saudi leader Mohammad Bin Salman on the project because of the ties that had turned cold because of the foreign policy of the country.
Tabish Gauhar said that after Imran Khan's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, no word had been conveyed to the Petroleum Division about any development on the refinery, adding that the Finance Division is in contact with Saudi officials with regard to restoration of the oil facility.