US giants lead on US$7bn Asian oil investment

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American BigLaw outfits White & Case and Shearman & Sterling have taken the lead roles as Saudi Arabian Oil (Aramco) has struck a deal to invest US$7bn in Petroliam Nasional’s (Petronas) Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Malaysia.

White & Case advised Aramco while Shearman & Sterling advised Petronas, both of which signed the share purchase agreement for the investment on 28 February. The RAPID project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2019, will be Asia’s largest downstream petrochemical project.

Part of Petronas’ larger 22,000 acre Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIC) in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, the project includes refinery, cracker, and integrated petrochemical facilities with the capacity to refine 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It will also produce a wide range of refined petroleum products, including Euro 5 gasoline and diesel, and is expected to produce 3.5m tonnes of petrochemical products per year.

White & Case and Shearman & Sterling have long been acting for Aramco and Petronas. Since 2012, Shearman & Sterling has been advising Petronas on the RAPID project, with a team led by partner Bill McCormack in Singapore.

White & Case is reported to be advising Aramco on its potential IPO – expected to be the biggest yet in history – which may raise between US$100bn to US$150bn for a staggering valuation of US$2trn. The global law firm recently advised Aramco on its US$5bn joint venture with Indonesia’s PT Pertamina (Persero), the Saudi oil giant’s first refinery project in South East Asia.

Working with William Montjoy, Aramco’s legal team head, the White & Case team was led by partners Steve Payne in Singapore and Michael Watson in Abu Dhabi. The team included partners Wendell Maddrey and Jean Shimotake in New York, Luke Robottom in Abu Dhabi, Paul Harrison in Tokyo, Pontus Lindfelt in Brussels, and local partner Jon Bowden in Singapore. The team was assisted by associates Yasuhiro Taai Izushima, Yon Tzan Jong, Ee Lynn Tan, and Audrey Lim in Singapore; Yasser Riad, Daniel Solomon, and Claire Janvier in Abu Dhabi; Brandon Freeman in New York; Alex Claydon in Tokyo; and Matteo Giangaspero and Sophie Sahlin in Brussels.

In Singapore, the Shearman & Sterling team was led by partner Anthony Patten who was supported by partners

McCormack and Sidhart Bhasin. The team also included associates James Clayton-Payne and Matthew Shearman in Singapore and Denise Lum in London. The main team was assisted by partners Ben Shorten and Daryl Chew in Singapore and Iain Elder in London; counsels Scott Baggett, Anna Chung, and Alfred Ng in Singapore, and Dan Feldman in Abu Dhabi; and associates Chad Passlow and Lachlan Clancy in Singapore, and Samuel Ogunlaja in Abu Dhabi.

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