Then if I create a connection as user 'scott' and try this grant it does not work:
grant sysdba to scott;
But if I create the connection as user 'scott as sysdba' the grant works just fine.
grant select any table to hr; Error starting at line 1 in command: grant select any table to hr Error report: SQL Error: ORA-01031: insufficient privileges 01031. 00000 - "insufficient privileges" *Cause: An attempt was made to change the current username or password without the appropriate privilege. This error also occurs if attempting to install a database without the necessary operating system privileges. . . .
Clearly the two connections are different so the 'as sysdba' is definitely being used.