Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has postponed the bid deadline for a major new maintenance deal at the Shuaiba refinery by a month.

The state refiner has now set a 9 March closing date for technical and commercial proposals. It had orginally set a 16 February deadline. Contractors hoping to bid on the deal say more time was needed for technical discussions on the project.

The winning bidder will perform mechanical maintenance at the refinery for five years. The contract is worth an estimated KD22.5m ($78.1m).

Firms invited to bid on the deal include, all local, Heavy Engineering Industries and Shipbuilding Company (Heisco), Integral Services Company, Kharafi National, Al-Dar Engineering and Construction Company, Imco Engineering & Construction, KCC Engineering & Contracting Company and Al-Meer Technical Services Company.

The contract is one of a series to be tendered by KNPC and its sister company state oil and gas producer Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) in 2009 and 2010 as they move to sign up firms to oversee the maintenance and operation of their facilities.