The call for final prices follows the completion of a rigorous six-month technical evaluation, which has seen the three bidders evenly matched. ‘We have levelled out the bids in terms of technical scope and expect to make a decision based solely on price by August,’ says a project source.

The project, which is one of three such fertiliser schemes planned for Sohar, entails the construction of a plant with a capacity to produce 3,500 tonnes a day (t/d) of urea from an ammonia output of 2,000 t/d. Sohar International Urea & Chemical Industrieswill manage the facilities, which are due to start operations in 2005. Transammonia of the US has signed an offtake agreement. HSBC Investment Bankis the financial adviser (Oman, MEED Special Report 26:4:02, pages 35-36).