DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA (March 30, 2005) - Saudi Aramco and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC) Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Collaboration to evaluate future cooperation in petroleum research and development and the commercial exploitation of any resulting technologies.

Abd Allah S. Al-Saif, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Exploration and Producing, said the accord, signed in the presence of both countries’ petroleum ministers, was “a milestone in the steadily developing energy relationship between Saudi Arabia and India.”

Mr. Al-Saif added: “India is a very important country for us, and we usually complement such close relationships by going beyond the supply of crude oil and entering into downstream partnerships. We look forward to achieving such a goal with India.”

The accord calls for cooperation in such areas as production of cleaner fuels, refinery process improvements, corrosion control and biomediation.

The joint memorandum capped a visit to Saudi Aramco by H.E. Mani Shankar Aiyar, India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and an accompanying delegation of key officials and Indian energy industry representatives.

Minister Aiyar and his Saudi counterpart, H.E. Ali I. Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, attended the signing ceremony in Dhahran. Abdulrahman F. Al-Wuhaib, vice president of Engineering Services, signed the memorandum on behalf of Saudi Aramco. Mr. N.K. Nayyar, director of Planning & Business Development, signed for IOC.

The Indian Petroleum Minister arrived in Dhahran Wednesday morning after spending the night at Saudi Aramco’s remote desert oil-production facilities at Shaybah, in the Rub‘ al-Khali (Empty Quarter). Following the signing ceremony, Mr. Aiyar toured Saudi Aramco’s Exploration & Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC) in Dhahran.

Commenting on his visit, the Indian Minister said: “I consider this visit to Saudi Arabia and to Saudi Aramco to be historic and extremely significant, and at the same time very enjoyable. We have seen many things and learned a great deal. We were impressed to see that the world’s most important energy resource and the world’s largest oil company are managed and run by Saudis.”

He cited Saudi Aramco’s role as a reliable suppler of crude oil to India, and added: “I would like to see Saudi Aramco as a partner in India’s refining and marketing sector.”