Financial adviser Societe Generale has approached up to six international banks to join an initial arranging group that will help structure the deal and work on financial models.

They will also research the market demand for the debt and the potential pricing of any funding. This enlarged group will then be responsible for approaching the wider bank market with the deal by early 2008.

Banks are expected to respond by the first week of November, with appointments likely to be made in December.

Senior bankers close to the deal say that while the exact figure to be raised by the banks has yet to be decided, it will be in the region of $2,000 million.

The refinery will have an annual capacity of 5 million tonnes and is being run by a company set up by Citadel called Egyptian Refining Company, which was capitalised at $550 million.

Construction of the refinery has already begun and Citadel hopes to complete the project in four years.

Institutions including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Calyon are understood to have been approached to work with the advisers on the deal.