Two companies – JGC Corporation of Japan and Italy’s Tecnimont – are understood to be in the running for the contract, which covers the front-end engineering and design and project management of the multi-billion-dollar expansion.

The bid bond for their offers expires at the end of June, indicating that the contract should be awarded by then.

The $10bn first phase of Petro-Rabigh is due to come on stream later this year. A joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, it is the first project in the region to integrate an existing refinery with a petrochemicals complex.

The second phase involves the expansion of the ethane cracker and aromatics complex, and the construction of at least 15 downstream chemical production plants (MEED 17:1:08).