State refinery operator Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has awarded four contracts, totalling almost $600 million, for the supply of reactors for the three atmospheric residue desulphurisation (ARDS) units at its planned grassroots refinery at Al-Zour.‘We have made an early procurement of 40 reactors for the new refinery,’ Hatem al-Awadhi, KNPC executive assistant managing director for projects, told MEED on 8 March. ‘We have signed the contracts with Japan Steel Works and three Italian companies – ATB Riva Calzoni, GE Nuovo Pignone and Belleli.’ Under the terms of the contracts, each manufacturer will supply, test and inspect between six and 12 reactors, each with capacity of up to 1,000 tonnes. The reactors will be a vital process link in the three 110,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) ARDS units, the technology for which has been licensed from the US’ Chevron Lummus Global, a 50:50 joint venture of US-based Chevron Corporation and ABB Lummus Global (MEED 2:9:05). The hydrotreater complex at the 615,000-b/d refinery will be the largest ever built anywhere. ‘We selected four different suppliers because 12 reactors is the maximum they can make due to factory capacity constraints,’ said Al-Awadhi. Installation and construction of the complex will be the responsibility of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. About nine companies and groups are expected to be prequalified to bid for the estimated $1,000 million ARDS EPC package, which is due to be tendered by the end of April (MEED 17:2:06). Scheduled to come on stream in 2010, the new refinery will be the largest in the region and one of the biggest worldwide. It is aimed primarily at providing fuel oil for the state’s power plants, but has been configured to switch to refine export crude if a source of natural gas is found. The Houston office of the US’ Fluor Corporation is the front-end engineering and design (FEED) and project management contractor. The US’ Foster Wheeler carried out the initial feasibility study (MEED 28:10:05).