Saudi Aramco has drawn up a shortlist of prequalified contractors to bid for nearly $6bn worth of construction work on its planned 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Jubail export refinery, following its decision in May to proceed with the investment.

Aramco is expected to issue bid invitations to more than 12 companies in the second week of June, ahead of meetings in Rome on 20 June and 10 July to explain the project in more detail.

The meetings will be held at the offices of Technip, which is handling the combined front-end engineering, design and programme management services contracts.

The state-owned oil company is tendering eight engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages in total. The first six will be carried out by international contractors, while the final two will be carried out by local firms.

The first package, which is worth $1.8bn, covers distillation and hydrotreating. The prequalified bidders include Spain’s TR, France’s Technip, Italy’s Snamprogetti, South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction, and Japan’s JGC Corporation.

The second contract is split into two parts, covering a conversion unit and a sulphur and amine saltwater treatment unit respectively. Bidders for the first element of the package, worth $1.7bn, include Snamprogetti, South Korea’s Samsung Engineering Company in partnership with Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation, Technip and JGC.

Several South Korean contractors are also bidding for the $400m sulphur component, including Daelim Industrial Company and Hyundai Engineering & Construction, alongside other international contractors such as TR, Taiwan-based CTCI and Italy’s Techint.

The aromatics package, worth $650m, is being courted by Samsung and Chiyoda, Daelim, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, SK, Italy’s Tecnimont with the US’ Stone & Webster, and TR.

The final major package, covering the coker unit estimated to cost $1.2bn, has attracted interest from Snamprogetti, Chiyoda, JGC and the US’ Foster Wheeler in partnership with Daelim.

Two further packages for international contractors covering the interconnection of different refinery units along with plant utilities will also be tendered, although companies have yet to receive details of these schemes.

The remaining two packages, which are expected to go to local firms, cover auxiliary utilities and pipeline works.

At least five smaller packages will also be made available to local contractors over the next few months.

Contractors are expected to bid for the work on a fixed-price or traditional lump-sum turnkey basis, where the contractor takes almost all the responsibility for the project and the risk of rising material and labour prices.

In May, Aramco confirmed that it would proceed with the refinery alongside its joint venture partner, France’s Total.

Aramco will own 62.5 per cent of the project and Total will hold the remaining 37.5 per cent (MEED 9:5:08).

Construction contracts are expected to be awarded by the first quarter of 2009.

Costs on the refinery are currently set at $12bn, double the initial budget of $6bn.