Having presented banks with a comprehensive bid package, the sponsors expect to make rapid progress towards financial close, scheduled for late 2002. A lead arranging group of about 10 banks is set to be nominated in late October. Each lead arranger is expected to take a final hold of $50 million, meaning that only $200 million will go to general syndication, thus mitigating risk.

The project’s financial adviser is the Royal Bank of Scotland; the legal adviser is Linklaters.

The PIM is expected to receive a strong response from banks, given that it is the first of a number of world-scale GTL plants planned. In Qatar alone, five other GTL projects are under study by QP, with the most advanced being developed with the Royal Dutch/Shell Groupand the US’ ExxonMobil Corporation, respectively.

Similarly, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package for the QP/Sasol project is likely to be the subject of fierce competition. Four groups are preparing to submit bids on 10 October for the contract, which is due to be formally awarded in late December. They are Germany’s Krupp Uhde; a Japanese group of Chiyoda Corporationand Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; Paris-based Technip-Coflexip; and a group made up of Japan’s JGC Corporation, Italy’s Snamprogettiand US-based Halliburton KBR. The UK office of US-based Foster Wheeler Corporationis the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contractor (MEED 16:8:02, Oil & Gas).

The plant will use 330 million cubic feet a day of lean gas, produced from the enhanced gas utilisation (EGU) project, as feedstock. Based on Sasol’s slurry phase distillate technology, the plant will produce 24,000 b/d of fuel, 9,000 b/d of naphtha and 1,000 b/d of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).