Origin Energy said that Australia Pacific LNG has signed agreements with a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks and export credit agencies for an US$8.5 billion project finance facility.
The project finance facility provides funding for the downstream parts of the project, including the liquefaction facilities on Curtis Island near Gladstone in Queensland, and will underpin the development of Australia Pacific LNG’s CSG to LNG project. The facility is subject to a final investment decision (FID) being taken on the second phase of the Australia Pacific LNG project.
Origin Managing Director, Grant King said, “Today’s announcement is another major milestone for Australia Pacific LNG, and paves the way for development of one of Australia’s largest LNG export projects.
“Australia Pacific LNG’s ability to secure US$8.5 billion in project finance from Australian and international lenders evidences the strength and quality of the project.
“Substantial progress continues to be made by Australia Pacific LNG across all areas of the CSG to LNG project and we remain on track to take a final investment decision on the second phase of the project by mid-2012.
“Given the timing of Australia Pacific LNG’s phase one FID, we believe our project schedules and budgets were based on a solid understanding of current regulatory requirements and the cost environment. We remain confident that the project remains on schedule and budget to deliver first gas in 2015, as expected,” Mr King said.
The US$8.5 billion project finance facility was signed by Australia Pacific LNG, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM), The Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM) and a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks.
The commercial banks and US EXIM have signed the definitive project finance documentation with Australia Pacific LNG for 16 and 17 year terms respectively. China EXIM has signed a commitment letter agreeing to the key terms of the project finance facility, with its signing of the definitive documentation expected to occur shortly. Draw down under the project finance facility, which is subject to customary conditions precedent, including certain government approvals, will be made progressively over the construction phase of the project.
Origin Executive Director, Finance and Strategy, Karen Moses said, “We are very pleased with the success of the US$8.5 billion project finance facility for Australia Pacific LNG. It represents one of the largest project finance facilities in Australia and is testament to the quality of the project, the strength of the joint venture partners and financiers’ confidence in the CSG to LNG industry.
“The substantial commitments from each of US EXIM and China EXIM demonstrate their support for the project’s partners. The project also received strong support from major Australian banks as well as high level international commitment from a quality syndicate of European, Asian and Canadian institutions.
“Australia Pacific LNG was able to secure long-term finance with 16 and 17 year terms in a constrained environment, removing refinance risk from the project. The combination of a well structured transaction and continued diligence from all parties involved, have been key factors in the success of the project finance,” Ms Moses said.
While the facility is structured as non-recourse to Australia Pacific LNG shareholders, each shareholder has provided a several guarantee of its shareholding percentage of the debt during the construction phase. Origin expects that any assessment of its credit rating by credit rating agencies to be inclusive of Origin’s share of project finance. The guarantees fall away following completion of the construction phase of the project subject to customary completion tests.
LNG World News Staff, May 24, 2012