After a delay of more than a year, Kuwait’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), the country’s highest oil sector decision-making body has finally approved two schemes to upgrade and expand its refineries.

Meeting on the evening of 27 June, the SPC signed off on plans for the New Refinery Project (NRP) and the Clean Fuels Projects (CFP), two schemes worth more an estimated $30bn, says a source close to the body.

Plans for the NRP have been approved by an SPC technical panel for more than a year, but the state-refiner, Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) has had to wait for the SPC before it can launch tenders for a major overhaul of its refining sector, raising the quality of its products, as well as increasing capacity to 1.4 million b/d from 800,000 b/d currently (MEED 3:6:10).

Officials at KNPC said in May the construction of the 615,000 barrels a day (b/d) fourth refinery will be prioritised. It plans to tender nine separate engineering, procurement and construction packages for its planned retender of the $15bn NRP. Five contracts were awarded in 2008, but were cancelled in 2009 before construction had begun. Tenders could be launched now by mid-2012.

An announcement was been expected in March 2010, but the SPC delayed its decision on whether to issue fresh tenders for contracts, while it awaited new cost estimates.