AES Qatar power venture secures $572m loan

The Ras Laffan power and water project in the State of Qatar, which is majority owned by US power developer AES, has secured international funding of $572.25m, according to lead lender ANZ Investment Bank.

In a statement issued by ANZ Thursday, it said the loan, signed in London on Tuesday, consists of a $545m term loan plus a standby facility of $27.25m.

Qatari officials have said that newly set up Ras Laffan Electricity Company Ltd would fund the remainder of the $700m cost of the plant from equity.

Ras Laffan consists of a 750 MW and 180m imperial litres/per day of water natural gas-fired, combined-cycle cogeneration power and water desalination project.

This is the first project in the Gulf Arab State in which a foreign firm holds a majority stake. Traditionally, foreigners are allowed a stake of up to 49 per cent.

AES plans to award the construction contract to an Italian consortium of Enel Power and Fisia Italimpianti with a target completion date of May 2004.

The sole purchaser of the electric output from the plant will be the State-owned electric and water distribution organization, Kahramma, under a long-term power and water purchase agreement. Qatar Petroleum will supply natural gas to the power plant and will build a common seawater facility at Ras Laffan Industrial City for seawater supply.

The statement said that in addition to ANZ Investment Bank, the 10 mandated lead arrangers were Arab Banking Corporation, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Gulf International Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East, Qatar National Bank, Societe Generale, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and The Industrial Bank of Japan.

The Ras Laffan contract is the second large power generation project granted to AES in the region this year. In May, a subsidiary of AES secured the financing for a $348.6 million, 427 MW facility in Barka, Oman.

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