Russian gas producer Novatek’s controversial Arctic LNG project has secured a bumper financing package from a group of international lenders, including the Japanese export credit agency (ECA) and Chinese and Russian state banks.

The firm announced this week that it had obtained the necessary external financing for the project after signing loan agreements worth €9.5bn.

€4.5bn is provided by a syndicate of Russian lenders including Sberbank, Gazprombank and its subsidiary Bank GPB International, state development corporation VEB.RF and Bank Otkritie Financial Corporation.

State-backed lenders from China have also joined the deal, with the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China signing credit facilities worth up to €2.5bn.

Novatek says that financial institutions from OECD member countries have also agreed to lend up to €2.5bn, including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and “other lenders insured by export credit agencies”.

A spokesperson for Novatek declined to name the other ECAs involved in the deal.

Further financing will have to be raised by the sponsors of the project, which reportedly has total funding requirements of US$21.3bn. Russia’s Novatek owns a 60% stake, while Total, PetroChina, CNPC, and a consortium owned by Mitsui and Jogmec, each hold a 10% share.

As reported by Reuters in September, a trio of European countries had been weighing up whether or not to back the project through their ECAs, but cooled their interest after mostly Green Party politicians in the European Parliament flagged concerns.

“We urge the French, German and Italian governments to refuse to support this project and set a new standard by ending all export finance support to fossil fuels before Cop26,” the lawmakers said in a letter sent in May.

They flagged concerns that greenhouse gas emissions from the project would undermine Paris climate agreement goals, while researchers say dredging work being conducted as part of the development could result in several marine species unique to the region becoming extinct.

As yet, it is unclear whether these countries have entirely ruled out export credit support for the project.

A spokesperson for Italy’s ECA, Sace, declined to comment when contacted by GTR. But in mid-November, Reuters reported that the agency is considering insuring a loan of roughly €500mn for the project.

The French government could not immediately be reached for comment, while a spokesperson for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy says the decision over whether to provide export credit guarantee support to the LNG project is still pending.

“Due to the highly complex nature of this transaction, various aspects have to be taken into account. This includes the climate impact of the project, which has to be assessed thoroughly. The decision will be taken in due time,” the German government spokesperson tells GTR.

With a target of becoming operational by 2023 and reaching full capacity as soon as 2025, the Arctic LNG2 mega-project aims to build three LNG trains and infrastructure to liquefy natural gas extracted in the Arctic and transport it all the way to Europe and Asia.

Total – a minority shareholder in the project – estimates that as much as 7 billion barrels of oil equivalent could be produced from the reserve, enough to help a country such as France meet its gas needs for 27 years.

Germany, France and Italy are all members of the Export Finance for Future Alliance, which last week discussed ways in which they could collaborate in ending public financing for fossil fuels by the end of 2022.