‘The advisory RFP was just for the smelter and not for the associated power project,’ says one of the bidding bankers. ‘But there is a strong possibility that the scope of work will be expanded and the two aspects will be put together. From a financing perspective this would make a lot of sense.’

The potential twin-track approach reflects the split shareholder structure on the project (MEED 3:1:03). Oman Oil Company (OOC) and Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA) are expected to set up a joint venture to handle the power plant and this project company will have a 49 per cent stake in the smelter. The remaining 51 per cent share will be taken by Canada’s Alcan, though there is some speculation that a fourth shareholder might join, taking a portion of the Alcan stake.

When the financial adviser is appointed, attention will focus on the results of the technical and marketing feasibility study currently being conducted by Canada’s SNC Lavalin. The study is due to be completed in June.