Several companies have entered talks over executing the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the refinery, which is considered too large for individual companies to undertake.

South Korean firms Hyundai Engineering & Construction and GS Engineering & Construction are expected to form one bidding group, with Italy’s Saipem and Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation to lead another consortium.

France’s Technip, the US’ Bechtel and Japan’s JGC Corporation are also in talks over forming a group to bid.

Technical bids had been due on 15 October but the deadline has now been put back to 15 December. Commercial bids are due to be filed on 31 March 2009, as opposed to the original deadline of 21 January.