A syndicate of company bank lenders and export credit agencies have enlisted Latham & Watkins to act as legal counsel in refinancing approximately USD 8.3 billion for one of the world’s largest oil and gas projects, in Australia.
The development, named the Ichthys liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, is the product of a joint venture between the project’s operator, INPEX, and major partner Total, as well as seven others, CPC Corporation Taiwan, Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, Kansai Electric Power, JERA and Toho Gas.
A final investment decision for the project was reached eight years ago, followed by the development stage, which started in July 2018.
Importantly, the refinancing will release INPEX and its eight joint venture counterparts, from completion guarantee obligations it has to the lenders of the project.
The Ichthys LNG project, which incorporates all stages of development and production, from subsea and offshore, to pipeline and onshore, is located 820 kilometres southwest of Darwin. It is anticipated that it will be capable of producing 8.9 million tonnes of LNG per year, when in operation.
In a press release, INPEX stated: “The timespan of approximately 14 months from the project’s first LNG shipment in October 2018 until financial completion is shorter than the average for LNG projects of a similar scale, which demonstrates how the project’s production ramp-up has been progressing smoothly and steadily.”
An estimated 70% of the LNG produced by the Ichthys LNG project is planned to be exported for use by Japanese customers, and, via the project, INPEX is poised to support efforts to supply Taiwan and Japan with energy, while balancing this with meeting energy demand in wider Asia and the rest of the world.
The Latham & Watkins advisory team was led by Singapore and Tokyo-based partner Stephen McWilliams, who was supported by partners in those territories, as well as in London and New York.
Elsewhere in the energy space, and as clean energy transportation invades and dilutes oil and gas demand, United States zero-emissions transportation company Nikola Corp recently made a debut on the NASDAQ, with help from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.