The Export-Import Bank of the US (US Exim) has approved a $4.975bn loan for the development of the $20bn Sadara Chemical project at Jubail, the largest direct loan by the export credit agency (ECA) ever.

The confirmation of the larger US Exim loan comes as the sponsors behind the project, Saudi Aramco and the US’ Dow Chemical, consider plans to reduce the commercial bank loan for the complex from $2.7bn to about $1.5bn.

A sukuk (Islamic bond) to help fund the project is expected to be launched during October. The sukuk could be around $2bn in size, depending on interest from investors.

The sponsors hope that if they reduce the size of the commercial bank loans they will be able to get lower pricing from the banks.