The preliminary information memorandum (PIM) for the expected $1,100 million debt package is scheduled to be released next March. Al-Jarf said that a combination of commercial debt and Islamically structured finance will be sought, but that there is no anticipation of export credits being deployed. If an Islamic tranche is included it will be the first time for an Omani project financing: Oman is the only GCC country in which no Islamic banks are licensed.

The other shareholders in SAC are Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA), with 40 per cent, and Canada’s Alcan, with 20 per cent. The latter has committed to offtaking all the metal produced by the 315,000-330,000-tonne-a-year single potline. ‘It is a volume commitment, not a price commitment,’ said Mark Aplin, director of infrastructure and energy finance at Citigroup, which is acting as financial adviser on the project. ‘There is a floating price mechanism based on the LME [London Metals Exchange].’ CRU Strategiesis acting as market consultants. Alcan has also committed to the long-term supply of alumina and an advanced version of its Pechiney AP30 technology will be deployed. Alcan and its affiliates have a technical services agreement. The complex also involves the construction of a 740-780-MW power plant.

The current schedule sees financial close in June 2005, the start of construction the following month, the first power and metal produced in the fourth quarter of 2007, construction completed in January 2008 and full operations commencing in Q2 2008.’This is seen very much as the first phase of a two-stage project,’ said Aplin. ‘It is the expectation that there will be expansion to two potlines by 2010.’