Banks line up for Sasol GTL advisory

25 February 2003
South Africa's Sasol is evaluating bids from international banks for the mandate to carry out a financial feasibility study for its planned gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in the south of Iran. National Petrochemical Company (NPC)and Sasol in 2002 completed a pre-feasibility study for the plant, which will have capacity of up to 70,000 barrels a day (b/d) of GTL. NPC is holding talks with other potential providers of GTL technology, including the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, for the possible construction of an additional plant.

A number of international banks have submitted proposals for the advisory mandate to Sasol. Bidders are understood to include ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, HSBC and Mizuho Financial Group. On a second GTL scheme, pursued by NPC in partnership with Shell and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Societe Generaleis understood to have won the mandate to carry out a preliminary financial feasibility study. The companies last year completed a joint technical feasibility study for a GTL plant similar in size to the one proposed by Sasol.

NPC says among the issues still under negotiation with potential partners is whether to pursue the construction of one or two plants and whether the projects will be an integrated ventures, comprising the construction of the plant and the upstream element. This would include the development of one phase of the South Pars gas scheme. Pars Oil & Gas Company, the NIOC subsidiary in charge of the South Pars development, has earmarked phase 13 for GTL projects.

'In our view it does not need to be an integrated project,' says Mohammed Rahbari, managing director of London-based NPC International. 'It seems there are differences between LNG [liquefied natural gas] and GTL projects.'

Both Sasol and Shell are also pursuing GTL projects in Qatar. Sasol is involved in Qatar's Oryx GTLproject, in which it holds a 49 per cent share, while Paris-based Technip-Coflexipon 31 January signed the $675 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build the 34,000-b/d plant at Ras Laffan (MEED 31:1:03).

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