Saudi Aramco is to invite at least seven contracting companies to bid for the new $7,000 million-8,000 million, 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Ras Tanura refinery in the first week of August. However, just three of the firms appear likely to bid for the contract at this stage.

The company is expected to invite Fluor Corporation, Foster Wheeler, KBR, Bechtel and Jacobs Engineering, all of the US, along with Australia?s Worley Parsons and Canada?s SNC Lavalin to bid for the tender for the refinery on the east coast.

According to industry sources close to the deal, of the seven companies shortlisted, Fluor, Bechtel, SNC Lavalin and Jacobs are unlikely to bid because of the volume of work they already have. However, KBR, Foster Wheeler and Worley Parsons are thought to be committed to bidding for the lucrative project.

International consultants will bid for both the out-of-kingdom project management consultancy and in-kingdom construction management services contract as one package (MEED 15:6:07).Under the proposed bidding schedule laid out by Aramco, the contract is expected to be awarded in October.

Construction of the refinery is due to be completed by the end of 2011, with the refinery scheduled to come on stream in January 2012.

Aramco is expected to retain full ownership of the refinery, as its output will be confined to use in the domestic market, rather than for export purposes.

The project is part of a wide-ranging expansion effort by the company. Aramco is building three other refineries in the kingdom. Refining capacity is set to grow by 1.6 million b/d over the next five years to reach 3.8 million b/d by 2012.