Saudi Aramco seeks project finance loan of more than $1 billion: sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco has asked banks to submit proposals for a project finance loan of more than $1 billion, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: An Aramco oil tank is seen at the Production facility at Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

The state oil company’s request for proposals (RFPs) was sent this week, one of the sources said.

It was not immediately clear from the RFP the specific nature of the projects the funds will be used for, the sources said.

Aramco was not immediately available to comment.

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, by shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day of production.

Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser has said 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 told Reuters.

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Aramco, the most profitable oil company in the world, earlier this year raised $12 billion with its first international bond issue after receiving more than $100 billion in orders.

Last year, Aramco and Malaysia’s Petronas approached banks to replace a short-term $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.

Aramco officials are meeting bank analysts this week in Dhahran as part of the preparations for the IPO, two sources said.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Davide Barbuscia; additional reporting by Dahlia Nehme and Hadeel Al Sayegh, editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise