WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Export-Import Bank has approved a record-breaking $4.975 billion direct loan to help build a petrochemical complex in Saudi Arabia, the bank said on Thursday.
The loan to the Sadara Chemical Company, a joint venture between Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) and Saudi Arabian Oil Co, is the biggest in the bank's history and "will support more than 18,000 American jobs across 13 states," Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg said in statement.
Approximately 70 companies including Dow, KBR (KBR.N), ABB Inc and more than 20 small businesses are expected to export U.S. goods and services to the facility in Jubail Industrial City II in eastern Saudi Arabia under the loan, the bank said.
"Ex-Im Bank's action will allow U.S. manufacturers ... to sell equipment and services to the largest industrial complex ever built in a single phase," Andrew Liveris, Dow chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The complex is expected to be operational in 2016 and will consist of 26 processing units producing more than 3 million metric tons of 10 major categories of chemical products and specialty plastics per year, the bank said.
Government export credit agencies in Britain, Germany, France and South Korea are also helping to finance construction of the complex.
The loan marks Ex-Im Bank's second petrochemical transaction in Saudi Arabia and its second huge financing project in recent weeks in the Gulf region.
It announced a $2 billion direct loan on September 7 to Barakah One Co of the United Arab Emirates to buy U.S. equipment and construction services to build one of the world's largest nuclear power plants.
Earlier on Thursday, the U.S. Trade Representative's office announced it had signed a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to explore ways to boost bilateral trade and investment.
Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler