Egypt Petrochemicals Holding Company (Echem) plans to ask contractors bidding on a new petrochemicals plant at Alexandria to submit a fresh set of prices for the deal in July or August.

The state petrochemicals developer will finalise technical details on the project with engineering firms bidding on the engineering, procurement and construction deal during the week ended 10 June, and will then set a date for new commercial propositions, say sources close to the project.

At least four international firms submitted technical bids for the deal on 28 February, followed by commercial bids in late March (MEED 7:5:2010).

The bidders include South Korea’s Samsung Engineering, Japan’s Toyo Engineering & Construction, and two Italian firms, Tecnimont and Saipem.

Echem normally asks for at least two sets of priced bids on its projects, says a source at one bidder.

“They rarely pay attention to the first bid,” he says. “It is just a reference point; once they have got technical clarifications they will push for new, better prices.”

The plant will crack ethane, a component of natural gas, breaking it down into the chemical ethylene, which will be used to produce the basic plastic polyethylene. It will produce 750,000 to 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene.

The technology for the complex will be supplied by the US’ ABB Lummus, which completed front-end engineering and design studies for the scheme in September 2009.

Echem is responsible for implementing the country’s 20-year petrochemicals masterplan, which was unveiled in 2002. Despite being one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the world, the country’s petrochemicals production totalled just 600,000 t/y in 2002. The plan involves investments of $10-20bn (MEED 17:7:08).