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Aramco seeks project finance loan of more than US$1b: sources

Dubai

SAUDI Aramco has asked banks to submit proposals for a project finance loan of more than US$1 billion, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The state oil company's request for proposals was sent this week, one of the sources said.

The specific nature of the projects that the funds will be used for was not immediately clear from the request for proposals, the sources said. Aramco was not immediately available to comment.

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The request to banks went in a few days after the Sept 14 attack on two

giant Aramco plants which initially halved the crude output of the world's top oil exporter, shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day of production.

Aramco's chief executive Amin Nasser has said that the company, which is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), was still in the process of estimating repair work but that it was "not that significant", given the company's size.

Saudi Arabia has restored its oil production capacity to 11.3 million barrels per day after the attacks on oil facilities, three sources briefed on Saudi Aramco's operations said.

Aramco, the most profitable oil company in the world, earlier this year raised US$12 billion with its first international bond issue after receiving more than US$100 billion in orders. Last year, Aramco and Malaysia's Petronas approached banks to replace a short-term US$8 billion loan raised for a joint venture with long-term financing of approximately the same size, banking sources said.

Aramco is preparing for the domestic leg of its IPO, although some investors and sources close to the company's thinking say it is unlikely to proceed with a listing this year after the attacks. REUTERS