Hormuz closure 'may hit companies'
Manama, January 17, 2012
The increase in tensions in the Arabian Gulf and the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial transit route for global hydrocarbon trade, may hit some firms, Fitch said.
Whilst Fitch considers that this is a low probability scenario, a closure, if protracted, would have a significant impact on the operations of Fitch-rated energy issuers in Qatar and Abu Dhabi.
Debt service would not be affected in the short-term due to significant debt service reserves.
The severity of the impact of a closure of the Strait of Hormuz on RasGas, Dolphin and Nakilat would depend on its duration.
While RasGas and Dolphin have storage facilities available at Ras Laffan to cope with normal requirements for operational flexibility, these are not sized to cope with low probability-high impact events, such as the closure of export routes.
Therefore, the projects' production would need to be curtailed. Production of gas and liquids is integrated and so, for Dolphin, an inability to export condensate and LPG would also affect gas production and hence piped gas sales to the UAE and Oman.
While operations would be affected quickly after closure, debt service for all project companies should be secure for at least six months, as all transactions benefit from debt service reserves sized at an amount equivalent to the senior debt service due in the following six months. Insurance coverage may provide additional protection depending on policies' wording and events.
Should the Strait of Hormuz be closed, Fitch is likely to place RasGas, Dolphin and Nakilat's bonds' ratings on Rating Watch Negative pending developments.
The ratings may come under downwards pressure should the closure persist for several months or events escalate. – TradeArabia News Service