Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company (RasGas) has opted to combine the financing packages for trains 3 and 4, rather than financing the two projects separately. However, it has still to decide on the exact amount of debt to be raised and the precise date the information memorandum will be sent out to banks (MEED 31:8:01).
BNP Paribas, which was appointed last summer as adviser on train 4, is expected to have an overarching advisory mandate on the combined borrowing, which depending on the equity portion, could be up to $1,100 million.
The timing of the information is expected to be dependent on resolution of several outstanding regulatory issues relating to the 3.5 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) sales and purchase agreement (SPA) RasGas holds with Italy's Edison. The Italian company is seeking regulatory approval from the Italian authorities for the gas infrastructure that will handle the RasGas product.
'The thinking at the moment is that the information memorandum will come out in the third quarter, but it is almost impossible to put a date on it, given the workings of the Italian system,' says a banker close to the deal.
It is also unclear whether bidding for the lead arranging mandate will be confined to the four banking groups formed last year to bid for the train 3 financing (MEED 13:7:01).
Train 4, which will have capacity of 4.7 million t/y, will meet the Edison SPA, which calls for first deliveries to begin in 2005. The similar-sized train 3 is being built to meet RasGas' SPA with India's Petronet LNGfor 7.5 million t/y: first deliveries are due to begin in the first quarter of 2004.
RasGas has always maintained that there was a possibility that the two trains would be financed simultaneously, stating that it would be a logical step if the time difference between the two schemes narrowed. Some bankers have also argued that, by bundling the two financings together, RasGas will be able to reduce the Indian risk.
A Japanese/Italian consortium of Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsui & Companyand Snamprogettihas started construction of train 3. The same group will be formally awarded the train 4 engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, as soon as the outstanding regulatory issues in Italy have been resolved (MEED 13:4:01).
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