Dubai government-controlled oil and gas exploration, production and fuel retail entity, Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), secured a $690 million (Dh2.53 billion) commercial loan from a consortium of Chinese lenders as it looks to invest in innovation and technology.
"With rapid changes in the evolving energy industry, there is a global shift towards alternative energy, innovation and digitisation," said Saif Al Falasi, the group chief executive of Enoc. "We are forerunners in the areas of innovation and technology in the regional energy market and are pleased to see international financial institutions trusting and endorsing our growth plans."
The five-year term facility was arranged by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank – China's top three banks in terms of size, assets and profits. ICBC also acted as the co-ordinating bank for the loan, which will be used for general corporate purposes as Enoc "continues to fuel the local economy", the company said.
The financing underpins confidence by Chinese lenders in the growth prospects of Enoc on the back of its operational record over the past 25 years in the region, Mr Al Falasi said.
Enoc plans to invest Dh2.2bn to expand its retail network in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to meet rising demand and cater to Expo 2020 visitors.
The company will grow in the UAE to 191 petrol pumps by 2020 from the current 129 fuelling stations ahead of the world fair next year, Zaid Al Qufaidi, managing director of Enoc's retail business, said in May.
The UAE consumes 12 billion litres of fuel per year serviced by 566 stations, or 60,000 litres a day per station, which is double the global national average of 35,000 litres a day, according to Mr Al Qufaidi.
Enoc plans to expand at least eight-fold in Saudi Arabia from 14 stations currently to 124 stations by 2030, which it could double if profit margins for operators in the kingdom are increased, he said.