KOC has previously twice put back bids from the original deadline of 24 July at the request of prequalified contractors, to allow them more time to prepare their offers.

KOC has not given an explanation for the latest extension, until 18 November, but it comes as Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), which is developing the refinery, deals with a dispute over contracts awarded on the 615,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) plant.

Parliamentary critics complained that refinery deals were not tendered through the Central Tenders Committee, which evaluates and approves most public sector contracts in the country. The State Audit Bureau is now probing the tender process (MEED 29:8:08).

While KNPC has responsibility for the scheme’s overall development, control of the supply pipelines falls under KOC’s mandate.

Despite the delays with Al-Zour, the other major refinery project in the state, the $18bn Clean Fuels Project (CFP) to upgrade Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries, is moving ahead.

UOP of the US and France’s Axens have been shortlisted for the contract to supply KNPC with a process licence and design package for an isomerisation unit to increase refining capacity.

Firms had been told that the CFP would be delayed while KNPC deals with the dispute over the Al-Zour contracts (MEED 26:9:08).