The local/Singapore joint venture Petro Steel has emerged as the frontrunner to win a contract to build a tank farm for a new rubber plant at Jubail.

The complex is being developed by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and the US’ ExxonMobil Corporation.

A source close to the project says Petro Steel is in a strong position to win the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal after bids were submitted to Sabic and Exxon’s joint venture Al-Jubail Petrochemical Company (Kemya) on 15 December.

The US’ CB&I and the local Yanbu Steel Company also filed bids for the package.

Contractors will be invited to bid in January 2010 for the two other EPC packages at the site, which cover a methyl tertiary butyl ether plant and a halobutyl rubber plant.

The complex will have production capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of carbon black, rubber and speciality polymers for the tyre industry in the kingdom. A final investment decision will be made by Kemya in 2010. If it goes ahead, the plant should be completed by the end of 2013.

The US’ Fluor Corporation carried out the combined front-end engineering and design (Feed), and project management contract for the rubber plant.

In 2006, Sabic said the Kemya project would use feedstock allocated by the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry, as well as feedstock from other local sources.