By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Saudi Arabia plans to build an oil refinery in Pakistan’s southwestern strategic port city of Gwadar — a key route of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — an official said.
The development came days after Islamabad officially invited Riyadh to join the $64 billion CPEC, which is part of Beijing’s ambitious One-Belt-One Road project.
“The Saudi government plans to build a large oil refinery in Gwadar, which will help Pakistan meet its petroleum-related requirements,” Mir Dosteen Khan Jamaldini, the head of Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), a government agency that deals with the managerial affairs of the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea in the southwestern Balochistan province, told Anadolu Agency.
Local broadcaster Dawn News citing unnamed officials reported that the proposed refinery will be the third largest in the world.
A Saudi delegation led by the Kingdom’s advisor on energy Ahmad Hamed al-Ghamdi visited Gwadar on Tuesday to discuss the feasibility of the project.
The delegation has been engaged in talks with top Pakistani authorities for last two days.
“We have given them [Saudis] two options. The refinery can either be built in the [proposed] oil city or at the deep-sea port,” Jamaldini said adding that Riyadh will take a decision after discussing the options with experts.
“Saudi Arabia is mostly exporting its oil through its western ports on the Red Sea. Gwadar port will give the Kingdom another option”, he said.
Also, the Kingdom reportedly plans to invest in a copper and gold project in Balochistan’s Reko Diq area.
Last month, Pakistan formally invited Saudi Arabia to join the CPEC as a "third strategic partner". Though, there is no official confirmation of the expected volume of Saudi investment in the project, local media quoting unnamed government officials claim that Riaydh is going to invest $10 billion in the CPEC.
Riyadh has already announced the financing of three CPEC projects in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Azad Kashmir.
The mega project signed in 2014 aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to the port of Gwadar through a network of roads, railways and pipelines in order to transport cargo, oil and gas.
The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second largest economy.