International contractors bidding for the construction of a new petrochemicals plant at Alexandria have submitted a second set of commercial bids.

The proposals were submitted to Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (Echem) on 4 July, according to a source close to the deal. The state-owned petrochemicals developer is expected to open the bids at the end of July or early August.

Echem finalised technical details on the project with firms bidding on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal in the week ending 10 June. The contractors submitted technical bids for the estimated $2bn project at the end of February and initial commercial bids in late March. Bidders include South Korea’s Samsung Engineering; Japan’s Toyo Engineering & Construction; Tecnimont and Saipem; both of Italy (MEED 11:6:10).

The plant will crack ethane, a component of natural gas, breaking it down into the chemical ethylene, which will be used to produce the basic plastic polyethylene. It will produce between 750,000 and 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene.

The technology for the complex will be supplied by the US’ ABB Lummus, which completed front-end engineering and design studies for the scheme in September 2009.

Despite being one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the world, the country’s petrochemicals industry lagged behind its regional neighbours with production totaling just 600,000 t/y in 2002. Echem was established that year with a mandate to implement the 20-year petrochemicals masterplan set out by the Ministry of Petroleum.