Saudi Aramco has started searching for up to $4bn from local banks to help finance its planned $9.6bn Jubail oil refinery project.

The state oil giant issued tender documents to Saudi banks on 27 February and the majority of banks in the country have been approached, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

The loan documents are expected to be signed by the end of March.

The deal to finance the 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Jubail plant, a joint venture with France’s Total, was first launched to the bank market in June 2009, with commitments by international banks agreed in September.

In total, international banks are expected to provide about $1.9bn for the scheme, with a further $1.7bn guarantees by international export credit agencies.   

In addition, a $1bn Islamic bond (sukuk) is also due to be issued. In late 2009, Banque Saudi Fransi, local bank Samba and Germany’s Deutsche Bank were appointed to run the sukuk issue (MEED 18:12:09).  

Jubail was originally scheduled to come on line in March 2013, but the start date has since been delayed to late 2013.