Kuwait’s Al-Zour refinery will not become operational in early 2019 as planned, according to Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) spokesman Khalid al-Asousi.

Speaking to London-based news agency Reuters, he said problems gaining approval for an increased budget was to blame for the delay.

“We are already two months behind and we don’t know when we will get the funds,” he said.

The Al-Zour project is part of a plan to overhaul Kuwait’s refining sector, slash the sulphur content in its fuels and lift its refining capacity from 930,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 1.4 million b/d by 2020.

It will see a 615,000 b/d refinery constructed on a greenfield site in the Divided Zone, which is shared with Saudi Arabia, and has a long history of delays and setbacks.

Since it was first announced in 2005, the scheme has been tendered three times. It saw contracts awarded on the second occasion, but they were cancelled before construction started by the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), a government agencycharged with oversight of the country’s energy sector.

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