RasGas 3 bond heads for the US market

15 September 2006
RasGas 3, a 70:30 joint venture of Qatar Petroleum and the US ExxonMobil Corporation, has launched marketing for a $1,855 million 144a bond targeted primarily at US investors. The paper is guaranteed by Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company II (RasGas II), which has the same shareholders.
Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers are the lead managers. The bond has been rated A by Standard & Poors (S&P), A1 by Moodys Investors Service and A+ by Fitch.

'RasGas has a competitive cost structure, which results in forecast debt service ratios greater than three times under most stress scenarios,' says S&P credit analyst Karim Nassif. 'In addition, the projects break-even oil and gas prices for debt servicing are compellingly low, at less than $11 a barrel of oil and $2 a million BTU, which will further limit default risk.'

However, the rating is constrained by the structurally limited credit support compared to similar project financings, the agency said.

ExxonMobil is also to extend a pari passu shareholders loan of $795 million. The $2,650 million raised in total will be used for offshore development, completion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) train 5, ongoing construction of trains 6 and 7, the building of shared facilities with RasGas II which is handling trains 3 and 4 at the site and repayment of inter-company loans.

The funding forms the second tranche of a $10,000 million financing programme for RasGas 3 which began last year with a dual bank and bond

debt package, on which Royal Bank of Scotland acted as financial adviser. Bond, export credits and commercial bank debt can all be deployed (MEED 12:8:05).

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