The Yamal LNG megaproject in Northern Russia has secured one of the largest project financing packages in Russian history.
China’s export finance machine has stepped in with the funds, with China Exim and the China Development Bank (CDB) combining to provide more than US$12bn for the project, which is led by Novatek, a private gas company.
China Exim will provide a €9.3bn facility priced at Euribor + 3.3% through construction, and 3.55% upon completion. CDB’s portion is renminbi-denominated: Rmb9.8bn priced at Shibor + 3.3% through construction and 3.55% thereafter.
Both loans have 15-year tenors and convert to US$12.08bn in total.
Yamal LNG recently signed a US$4.1bn loan agreement with Sberbank and Gazprombank. Last year, it secured US$2.3bn from the National Wealth Fund, taking the total financing to date north of US$18bn. This makes it the third-largest lending package in Russian corporate history.
The loans from Sberbank and Gazprombank were insured on a 15-year basis by the Russian export credit agency Exiar.
Yamal LNG will cost a total of US$27bn to complete, with shareholders having already invested more than US$12.8bn. With this latest round of funding, Novatek CFO Mark Gyetvay has said the shareholders will not be required to contribute any more funds to the project. Also covered are external financing requirements.
Novatek is a major shareholder in the Yamal LNG project, which has caused complications due to its ownership. Gennady Timchenko, who part-owns the company, has been sanctioned by the US government after being deemed part of Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle”. This led to discussions over the lending being delayed by over a year.
However, the interest of the Chinese helped speed things along. Earlier in 2016, Novatek sold a 9.9% share in the project to the Silk Road Fund, which is owned by the Chinese government. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is also a shareholder, along with Total.
The world’s most northerly LNG project, located in the Arctic Circle, is already more than half-finished and is expected to be complete in 2017. Three production lines will produce 16.5 million tonnes of LNG each year, with 95% of production already sealed in offtake agreements.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the deal, however, is that it has been completed in the current climate. Projects are collapsing around the world, as an oversupply of cheap energy floods the market. The most notable deal to fail was the A$40bn Browse floating LNG project off the coast of Western Australia.
In March, the controversial project, which was to have been developed in an environmentally-sensitive area, was abandoned by main sponsor Woodside Petroleum due to the slump in prices. The company has a deadline of 2020 to decide whether it will use the gas field, after which it will lose the licence.
The giant Gorgon LNG project, also off the Western Australia coast, is expected to resume production after being shut down just a single shipment into its operations in April. The US$54bn project is operated by Chevron, which expects it to reach full production within a year.