The debt is understood to have attracted a strong response from banks. Originally, the sponsors had informed bidders that a lead arranging group of about 10 banks would be appointed with each taking a final hold of $50 million, meaning that only $200 million would go to general syndication. However, given the heavy bank demand bankers say the size of the group may be larger.

Financial close is scheduled for late 2002 and will coincide with the award of the plant’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, for which technical bids went in on 10 October (see Oil & Gas).

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

The loan will part finance the construction of the 34,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) plant at Ras Laffan, It 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).