Saudi Aramco has begun holding meetings with international engineering contractors over the joint front-end engineering and design (FEED) and project management consultancy (PMC) contract on its planned refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ras Tanura.

Aramco is understood to have visited the head offices of several international companies, including ABB Lummus Global, Bechtel, Fluor Corporation and Foster Wheeler, all US-based, and Australia’s WorleyParsons.

The client, which is in discussions with international companies interested in taking an equity stake in the petrochemicals portion of the scheme, is planning to issue the tender soon for the FEED/PMC contract.

The Ras Tanura scheme will involve an upgrade of the existing refinery and its integration with a new petrochemicals complex. Proposed units include an ethane/naphtha steam cracker to produce 1.2 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene and 400,000 t/y of propylene, an aromatics complex to produce 400,000 t/y of benzene and 460,000 t/y of paraxylene and a mix of specialty products. Start-up is scheduled for 2010.