State-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco and the US’ ConocoPhillips have sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to banks, asking them to make offers to fund the $10bn Yanbu refinery project.

The two sponsors are being advised by the US’ Citigroup and Riyad Bank. The banks had hoped to send the RFP out earlier, but scheduling conflicts prevented it.

The RFPs were sent out following the release of the non-disclosure agreements in early February, and local and international banks should receive the RFP in the coming days.

Bankers close to the project sponsors say that, because of the experience Aramco has had with its Jubail refinery, for which finance is also currently being sought, Yanbu should proceed more quickly.

“Yanbu will be closed in 2010,” says a banker close to the Yanbu project. “The benchmarks have already been set by Jubail, so everyone knows the way this will work.”