The refinery is likely to have a capacity of 200,000 barrels a day (b/d) and involve a capital cost of about $5bn. It will provide refined products for the local market.

No decision has yet been made over the source of the crude oil for the refinery.

However, given Ipic’s relationship with Abu Dhabi, oil is most likely to be shipped from the Gulf emirate, according to sources involved in the project

UK-based consultant Wood Mackenzie is soon to complete a feasibility study of the refinery. Ipic will then invite competitive bids for the front-end engineering and design element later this year. The refinery is due to be commissioned in 2013.

The Abu Dhabi firm is also seeking a technical partner, such as an international oil company, to take a stake in the project.

Industry observers cite the US’ Occidental Petroleum as a potential partner. Earlier this year, Occidental signed an agreement with Ipic to develop upstream and downstream projects in the region (MEED 10:3:08).

The sources say that whoever is selected as a partner, the Moroccan government will not be involved.

Morocco has only one world-scale refinery at Mohammedia, operated by Societe Anonyme Marocaine de l’Industrie du Raffinage (Samir). The 126,000-b/d refinery is being upgraded after a fire caused extensive damage in 2002 (MEED 24:12:04).