Facing a severe fund crunch, Pakistan is poised to ink billions of dollars of investment deals with close ally Saudi Arabia during the visit of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, including a multibillion dollar oil refinery in the strategic port of Gwadar.
“Three mega government-to-government MoUs will be signed and their total volume will be in double digit billion dollars,” Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Haroon Sharif told Dawn on Monday.
He said the three MOUs will be signed in the fields of oil refining, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and mineral development.
Prince Salman is paying his first two-day visit to Pakistan, most likely on Feb 16, on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The mega investment from Saudi Arabia comes days after Riyadh and its Gulf partner, the UAE, deposited $3 billion each in Pakistan´s central bank to help Islamabad resolve a balance of payments crisis.
Besides the MoUs, other business agreements are also likely to be signed between businessmen and industrialist of the two sides.
“A group of top 40 Saudi businessmen is accompanying Prince Mohammed. The delegation will interact with the local business community. It is expected that some other private level agreements will also be inked during the visit,” Sharif said.
Elaborating on an oil refinery that Saudi Arabia proposes to set up in Gwadar, Sharif said it will be established at a cost of $8 billion. “Besides foreign investment, it will also provide job opportunities to the locals of the port city. If they [Saudis] also establish a petrochemical complex along with the refinery, it will require an additional investment of billions of dollars,” he added.
He said the Saudi government was keen to install an oil refinery at Gwadar and urged the preparation of a feasibility report in this regard.
Responding to a query regarding China’s reaction over Saudis investment in Gwadar, Sharif said Beijing had no objection over Islamabad’s plan to establish an oil refinery at the port, which is part of the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“In fact the area where Saudis will install the refinery will exactly be determined after a feasibility study. However, it will be far away from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” he claimed.