Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has delayed the deadline for prequalification on a major refinery upgrade project by three weeks.

The state-owned refiner has asked interested contractors to submit prequalification documents for its long-delayed Clean Fuels Project (CFP) by 4 July, pushing the cut-off date back from 13 June.

The estimated $18bn project has been on the backburner for almost four years, since KNPC originally began a stalled prequalification process in the first half of 2008. But the CFP now looks to be gaining traction, with the company tendering the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for preparation works earlier this month.

Many of the 12 companies prequalified to bid on the preparation works are also likely to be involved in the bidding process for the main contract.

The project forms part of Kuwait’s plans to overhaul and expand its downstream sector along with the New Refinery Project (NRP), which has also been revived this year.

CFP, which will be tendered in three packages, will increase the processing capacity of the Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdulla refineries to 800,000 barrels a day (b/d) from 736,000 b/d by 2017, following the retirement of processing facilities at the Shuaiba refinery.