The sponsors behind a downstream petrochemical project at Jubail in Saudi Arabia have secured a $500m bridge loan to cover early stage construction work on the scheme.

The project is sponsored by a joint venture of the US’ Dow Chemical, Germany’s Evonik, and the local Tasnee and Sahara Olefins Company.

Construction on the project has already begun, and the bridge loan will be used to finance continued work on site until a longer-term $1.5bn project finance deal is put in place to fund the rest of the development. Sources close to the project say the long-term financing is expected to be put in place by the first quarter of 2012. The bridge loan was completed in mid-May.

The project is being developed by the Saudi Acrylic Acid Company, a subsidiary of Tasnee and Sahara, and will produce superabsorbent polymers. Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013.

The loan was provided by the local Samba, Banque Saudi Fransi, and SABB, the Saudi affiliate of the UK’s HSBC, which is also acting as financial adviser on the project.