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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns a definitive A1 rating to Dolphin Energy's new bank credit facility and affirms existing ratings

30 Nov 2015

London, 30 November 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned a definitive A1 rating to a new $863 million bank credit facility (the New Facility) to be raised by Dolphin Energy Limited (DEL, the Project), a company incorporated in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). The New Facility will be issued in a 15-year amortising form.

The New Facility will rank pari passu with DEL's existing senior secured debt facilities (the Existing Debt), which, as of June 2015, comprised:

• $657 million 5.888% amortising bonds due June 2019;

• $661 million Sponsor Co-Loans due June 2019;

• $67 million SACE facility due June 2019 (unrated);

• $1,300 million 5.5% bullet bonds due December 2021.

Moody's has also affirmed its A1 ratings on DEL's Existing Debt. The outlook on the Existing Debt and New Facility (together, the Senior Debt) ratings is stable. The New Facility's proceeds will be used to pay an extraordinary dividend and repay sponsor capital spent in relation to prior capital expenditures.

CORPORATE PROFILE

The Project is an integrated gas production, processing and transport project, delivering gas from Qatar's North Field to customers principally in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman. It comprises (1) an upstream component, an unincorporated joint venture (the UJV) that has contracted for the long-term supply and processing of gas from the State of Qatar under a Development and Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA); and (2) a midstream component, owned and operated by DEL. The midstream component comprises a 364 km sub-sea export pipeline from Qatar to Abu Dhabi and a network of onshore gas distribution pipelines supplying gas to customers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Oman. The UJV is operated by DEL, and the DPSA runs for 25 years from commencement of operations in July 2007.

In 2009, DEL raised $4.1 billion of 10-year amortising senior secured debt including a $1.42 billion bank facility, $1.25 billion of bonds and $1.22 billion of co-lending by the Project's owners (together, the 2009 Senior Debt) to refinance existing debt. In February 2012, DEL issued $1.3 billion of 10-year senior secured bullet bonds (the Bullet Bonds, and together with the 2009 Senior Debt, the Existing Debt) to refinance the $835 million of outstanding debt under the bank facility tranche and to pay the balance as a distribution.

The UJV and DEL are 51% owned by Mubadala Development Company PJSC (Mubadala, Aa2 stable), 24.5% by Total S.A. (Aa1 stable) and 24.5% by Occidental Petroleum Corporation (A2 stable) (the Sponsors). Mubadala is 100% owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi (Aa2 stable).

RATINGS RATIONALE

Today's rating assignment and affirmation reflects (1) the Project's long-term DPSA with the State of Qatar (Aa2 stable); (2) net revenue under long-term fixed price gas supply contracts with government owned entities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman sufficient to cover most senior debt service, after deducting all operating costs, leaving Dolphin with minimal exposure to commodity prices; (3) a strong competitive position as a low-cost producer of gas and gas liquids; (4) DEL's importance as a very competitive supplier in its regional gas market; (5) the Project's satisfactory operating track record of over eight years; (6) strong debt coverage ratios and (7) our assessment of a high likelihood of support for the Project, should it become necessary, from Mubadala, given the Project's strategic importance to the Government of Abu Dhabi.

These strengths are somewhat offset by the following weaknesses: (1) event risk considerations, including asset concentration risk and geopolitical risk; (2) refinancing risk as a result of DEL's issuance of senior bullet bonds, albeit mitigated by a sinking fund arrangement ahead of its maturity; and (3) the absence of security over upstream assets and shares in the Project.

DEL has previously been classified as a Government-Related Issuer (GRI), and our Government-Related Issuers methodology was previously used in rating the Project. However, the Project is 51% owned by Mubadala, and not directly owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi. To ensure consistency with our usual approach of treating subsidiaries of GRI's as non-GRI, we have declassified the Project as a GRI. Instead, we consider the benefits of government ownership and support on a qualitative basis. This change does not reflect a change in our expectations of shareholder support and it does not impact on the ratings.

The Senior Debt rating incorporates three notches of uplift to reflect the Project's strategic importance to the Government of Abu Dhabi and the benefits, including support, of Mubadala's 51% ownership.

RATIONALE FOR STABLE OUTLOOK

The stable outlook reflects the solid operating performance and strong financial metrics for the Project, as well as the strategic importance of the Project to the Government of Abu Dhabi.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

We could upgrade the ratings if there is an upgrade to Mubadala's rating.

We could downgrade the ratings following: (1) a downgrade of Mubadala's rating; (2) a reduction in the support assumptions currently incorporated in our assessment; or (3) a deterioration in the Project's operating and financial performance.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in rating was Generic Project Finance Methodology published in December 2010. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Tomas O'Loughlin
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Douglas Segars
Associate Managing Director
Infrastructure Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's assigns a definitive A1 rating to Dolphin Energy's new bank credit facility and affirms existing ratings
No Related Data.
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