About 12 companies have submitted prequalifications for an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covering the modernisation and partial reconstruction of Banias refinery. The estimated $400 million project has been under consideration for several years by the government.Prequalification applicants include South Korea’s Samsung Engineering Company, Engineers India (EIL), Larsen & Toubro of India, Industrialexport of Romania, China National Petroleum Corporationand unidentified Iranian and Italian companies. The EPC contract includes the installation of a desulphurisation unit, visbreaker, hydrocracker and related facilities to improve product quality. The contract will also include the installation of a vacuum distillation unit (VDU) and a crude distillation unit (CDU) to improve the production of gas-oil. France’s Beicip Franlab has carried out the front-end engineering and design (FEED) package. The client is the Petroleum & Natural Resources Ministry, acting on behalf of the refinery operator Banias Refinery Company (BRC). The project is being funded by BRC, but there is an option for the successful contractor to arrange financing. The refinery, built in 1980, has nameplate capacity of 135,000 barrels a day. It was designed to handle a variable feedstock mix, including both heavy and light oil (MEED 4:3:05).