Oman Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) has reduced the number of companies prequalified to bid on its Sohar refinery improvement project to five, according to the group’s chief financial officer (CFO).

Nazar al-Lawati said the list of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors for the project was dominated by South Korean companies and also included France’s Technip.

Orpic has extended the deadline for EPC bids to 29 April from a previous cut-off date of 11 February.

The project, which was tendered in December, will include a 71,500-barrel-a-day (b/d) crude distillation unit, a 96,800-b/d vacuum distillation unit, a delayed coker unit, and additional utilities and offsite facilities.

The extra capacity will provide additional naphtha and propylene feedstock for Sohar’s petrochemicals plants, as well as meeting rising fuel demand in the sultanate.

The polypropylene (PP) plant in Sohar, currently running at less than 60 per cent of its nameplate capacity, would be able to operate at 100 per cent with the additional propylene from the refinery, Al-Lawati said at the MEED Middle East Petrochemicals 2013 conference in Dubai.

He added that Orpic is studying the possibility of adding another petrochemicals unit in the existing complex, “potentially doubling the size”.