State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has extended the deadline for commercial bids on a $500m deal to build a new acid-gas removal plant at the company’s Mina al-Ahmadi refinery to 18 April .

Contractors were originally asked to submit bids by 7 March. Contractors believe the deadline could see further delays as they need technical clarification on a number of aspects of the project.

“There is no movement from KNPC,” says a source at one firm bidding on the deal. “We had a pre-tender meeting with the client in January, and they still have not issued a memo from that.”

“It is already mid-March, so on what basis can we prepare before the April deadline,” says a source at a second contractor.

Ten international firms have been prequalified to bid on the deal. They are:

  • Tecnimont (Italy)
  • Saipem (Italy)
  • ABB Engineering (Switzerland)
  • Daelim Industrial Company (South Korea)
  • SK Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • GS Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Petrofac (UK)
  • Sinopec (China)
  • Toyo Engineering (Japan)
  • Technip (France)

The winning firm will build a gas-handling unit at the refinery and sweetening facilities that strip sulphur from gas, as well as a sulphur recovery unit and related infrastructure. The facility will be able to handle as much as 230 million cubic feet-a-day of gas and 78,000 barrels a day of condensates.

The deal is part of KNPC’s programme to produce clean fuels, which meet international emissions standards. The programme includes a $15bn grassroots refinery at Al-Zour, and a revamp of the country’s existing refineries, both of which have been delayed as a result of political opposition to major contracts being awarded to foreign companies.