The state-owned shipping group aims to buy between 15 and 20 tankers for refined oil products, to meet rising demand. To achieve this, it is to hold talks with international financial institutions and hopes to have the new debt in place by the end of 2008.

Oman’s largest bank, BankMuscat, has said it aims to be lead arranger on the deal but that the size of the finance required by OSC was too large for local banks to provide alone.

Part of the money raised will also be used to finance ships already on order by OSC. The company placed orders for 15 large crude carriers and five supertankers earlier this year, in deals worth about $1.5bn.