Contractors were invited to express their interest in the Juaymah project by 22 September, which will be followed by a job explanation meeting in October and a contract award in March 2005. Aramco funding approval for the estimated $200 million project is scheduled to take place in February 2005. Project completion is scheduled for the end of 2007.

The project covers the addition of a fourth train for the fractionation of 270,000 barrels a day (b/d) of ethane and natural gas liquids (NGL), and 100,000 b/d of propane and NGL. Among the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors expected to bid for the project are Italy’s Snamprogetti, Paris-based Technip, Italy-based Techintand Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas.

Tenders are now expected in mid-2005 for the two other projects in the gas programme – the estimated $200 million expansion of the 1,600 million-cubic-feet-a-day (cf/d) Hawiyah gas plant, calling for the addition of 800 million cf/d of new capacity; and the greenfield Hawiyah NGL plant, which will have capacity to treat about 3,800 million cf/d of gas and will mainly handle NGL from the Haradh and Hawiyah gas plants. Five packages covering the construction and expansion of related pipelines will also be tendered, starting in the fourth quarter.

Several companies were prequalified to bid for all three gas projects last year but the programme was subsequently rescheduled as a result of the weakness of the dollar and its subsequent reduction in spending power on goods and services imported from the eurozone, the UK and Japan, which make up a significant part of the company’s expenditure.