A PowerChina subsidiary has signed a $1.99bn contract to develop Egypt’s Ain Sokhna Refinery, located east of Cairo on the Red Sea.

Sinohydro Corporation, a subsidiary of the state-owned Chinese firm, will be responsible for the design, procurement and construction of relevant facilities of the 155,000 barrel-a-day planned refinery.

The Chinese firm is expected to complete the project in 44 months.

Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation had earlier proposed to tender the refinery in 2006, but development of the project had stalled following civil and political unrest in Egypt.

Saudi and Kuwaiti investors had agreed to back the greenfield scheme in 2005.

The refinery is designed to boost Egypt’s gasoline and diesel production and targets exports to East Asia.

Egypt’s refining capacity – the highest in Africa – currently stands at 810,000 barrels a day (b/d) but its throughput declined to 508,000 b/d in 2016 from 631,000 b/d a decade earlier, according to the 2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.