State-owned oil major Saudi Aramcohas prequalified 10 contractors for the retender of the Ras Tanura refinery clean fuels and aromatics project in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

MEED reported in July that Aramco had invited tontractors to express interest in bidding for the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contracts for the scheme. The 10 contractors prequalified by Aramco are:

The project will be split into two tenders now as per the MEED report of April 2014, which said the paraxylene package was being dropped to lower costs. The US’ Jacobs Engineering are reconfiguring the front-end engineering and design (feed), but this is not completed yet and the EPC tenders will not be released until this has been fully modified to fit the new scope.

The two packages that will be released are:

  • Offsites and utilities
  • Naphtha and toluene  

The naphtha and toluene package will be split into units with the following capacities:

  • Naphtha hydrotreater – 140,000 barrels a day (b/d)
  • Catalytic cracking reformer – 90,000 b/d
  • Isomerisation – 65,000 b/d
  • Toluene – 70,000 b/d

“Everyone is now waiting for the feed to be completed and it is as yet unclear when the exact date for this will be,” says an oil and gas source in Saudi Arabia.

The dropping of the paraxylene unit means the project budget should now fall between $2bn-$3bn. The timeline for the scheme is tentatively expected to be the following:

Tender release: September 2014
Commercial and technical submission date: December 2014
Contract award: February/March 2015
Construction schedule: 36 months

The Ras Tanura refinery is fully owned by Aramco and is the largest oil facility in Saudi Arabia, with a capacity of 550,000 b/d. Aramco is currently upgrading its domestic refining capacity to lower the sulphur content of its downstream output and diversify the amount of refined products it manufactures.

Ras Tanura has also been earmarked as a potential site for additional petrochemicals production facilities, as part of the kingdom’s refining petrochemicals integration initiative, along with Jizan in the southwest of the kingdom and Yanbu on the Red Sea coast.