Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (Orpic) could start approaching banks to raise up to $2bn in April, according to chief financial officer Nazar al-Lawati.

Speaking on the sidelines of the MEED Petrochemicals 2013 Conference, Al-Lawati said the company is currently considering whether to approach banks for almost $1bn for the financing of its refinery improvement project, or to also include refinancing an additional $1bn of existing debt held by the company for the development of its Sohar refinery.

In June 2012 Orpic appointed the UK’s HSBC and National Bank of Oman as financial advisers on the $1.5bn project to expand and improve the efficiency of the Sohar refinery. “We will probably start approaching banks early in the second quarter, so possibly as soon as next month,” said Al-Lawati. “Ideally we will reach financial close as close as possible to the signing of the EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] contract, so we would want it to be in the fourth quarter of the year.”

The expansion financing will be split between about $900m of debt and $600m of equity, Al-Lawati added. But if the company decides to also take the opportunity to refinance the existing debt held on the Sohar refinery, it will bring the total fundraising up to almost $2bn. “Our advisers have presented us with different options. As the management, we have not yet decided which one we will go for,” said Al-Lawati. “One of the options is to refinance debt we have on our balance sheet for the Sohar refinery.”

He added the new funding will be sourced from banks and export credit agencies (ECAs). “Under current market conditions our advisers say the financing will have to be a mix of ECAs and bank loans. We are not contemplating issuing bonds or sukuk [Islamic bonds] at this stage.”