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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns A3 rating to Phoenix Park Gas Processors' notes; Outlook stable

18 Apr 2007
Moody's assigns A3 rating to Phoenix Park Gas Processors' notes; Outlook stable

Approximately US$38.7 Million of Debt Securities Rated

New York, April 18, 2007 -- Moody's Investors Services assigned an A3 rating to the proposed issuance of US$38.7 million senior secured notes by Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited (Phoenix Park or the project). The Notes are secured pari passu with the outstanding secured notes of Phoenix Park Funding Limited, a financing vehicle whose debt is guaranteed by Phoenix Park, and all other senior secured borrowings of Phoenix Park, including the existing senior secured notes that are rated A3. The rating outlook for Phoenix Park is stable.

The A3 rating for Phoenix Park's senior secured debt reflects the application of Moody's rating methodology for government-related issuers (GRIs). In accordance with Moody's GRI rating methodology, the rating reflects the combination of the following inputs: baseline credit assessment of 8-10 (on a scale of 1 to 21, with 1 representing the lowest credit risk), the Baa1 local currency rating of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, high support, and low dependence.

The underlying baseline credit assessment of 8-10 reflects Phoenix Park's dominant market position and relatively successful operating history, reasonable debt service coverage ratios under stress scenarios, a significant level of margin protection from fee components in some feedstock agreements and supply-or-pay contracts, and continued growth in downstream dry gas demand by export industries that support the need for expansion of Phoenix Park's processing capacity. These positive factors help to mitigate the expectation that the project's annual debt service coverage ratios will modestly decline over the next several years due to a higher level of debt, dependence, albeit declining, on the volatility and cyclicality of product prices, the project's significant dividend payout, and the risk of increasing regional competition and global capacity expansions, which could soften product prices.

Low dependence reflects the small scale of the project relative to the overall economy of Trinidad & Tobago (T&T), the export-oriented focus of the products, and the likelihood the plant would continue running even under a scenario in which the government were to default.

High support reflects Moody's assessment of the strategic positioning of the project, the strategic importance of the hydrocarbons industry to the overall economic well-being of the T&T economy, and the significant stake in project by the National Gas Company of T&T.

While a higher baseline credit assessment is not likely at this time given the project's small size and single asset profile, increased scale and operating diversity in tandem with a demonstration of reduced dependency upon fluctuating market prices could be positive for Phoenix Park's baseline credit assessment and foreign currency bond rating over the longer-term. The ratings could be pressured from increased competition materially cutting into the project's most important markets or a downgrade in the Government of Trinidad & Tobago's ratings.

The note proceeds will be used to finance the construction of a new 3,500 barrels per day butane splitting facility ($20.8 million), as well as the expansion of three support systems, including the relocation and sizing of the process flare ($8.9 million), expansion of the Independent re-run system ($6.7 million), and contraction of a new control room ($1.3 million). The butane splitting facility, which is expected to come on-stream in the first quarter of 2009, will split Phoenix Park's mixed butane product into normal butane and iso-butane, with the normal butane exported to regional markets and the iso-butane sold to the Petroleum Company of Trinidad & Tobago (Petrotrin) under a 10-year take-or-pay agreement. Phoenix Park is also currently undergoing its Phase 3 expansion, a $120 million expansion to further expand the gas processing capacity of its facilities to meet increased demand from downstream industries. The Phase 3 expansion, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2008, will increase gas processing capacity by 48% and storage capacity by 25%. The Phase 3 facilities are being built to accommodate ethane recovery in the future should conditions warrant.

The project is currently owned 51% by NGC NGL Limited, 39% by ConocoPhillips Trinidad and Tobago Holdings Inc. (COPTT), and 10% by Pan West Engineers and Constructors, Inc. (Pan West). NGC NGL Limited is 80% owned by the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago (NGC), which is wholly-owned by the government of Trinidad & Tobago, and 20% owned by National Enterprises Limited, an investment holding company in Trindad. COPTT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ConocoPhillips Company, and Pan West is owned by GE Energy Financial Services.

New York
John Diaz
Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Gretchen French
Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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