South Korea’s Hanwha Engineering & Construction is considered the frontrunner to win a $200m-plus deal to upgrade fire-detection and prevention systems at Kuwait’s refineries.

Hanwha submitted a price of KD62.1m ($220m), 23.5 per cent lower than the second-placed bid from Zurich-based ABB Engineering Technologies with KD76.7m on 9 November. Three other firms bid: Italy’s Saipem with KD93.8m, Ireland’s Kentz Overseas KD101m and Italy’s Techint KD115m.  

The client, Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) has not notified Hanwha that is has been successful yet, says a source close to the project.

Despite the expected size of the deal, only five firms submitted bids out of the 14 prequalified in June. Spread across Kuwait’s three refineries at Mina al-Ahmadi, Mina Abdullah and Shuaiba as well as local marketing sites, the “scope of work focuses mainly on electrical and instrument installation”, says one source close to the scheme, something which put many firms off bidding (MEED 17:6:10).

The winning firm will renovate KNPC’s current fire detection, alarm and prevention systems and dispose of its halon gas fire suppressant system. The state-refiner has had several fires at its refineries, the latest of which came as recently as 1 June, when a fire broke out at a hydrogen unit in the 260,000 barrel-a-day Mina Abdullah refinery, forcing it to shut down.