State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has finally issued a tender for the estimated $16bn-plus engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for its long-awaited Clean Fuels Project (CFP) which will overhaul its existing refineries.

Documents are available from 28 April and KNPC has set a closing date of 10 November for the submission of technical and commercial proposals.

The firm has also set a KD10m ($35.18m) bid bond for the deal.

KNPC will hold two sets of pre-tender meetings and sites visits. The first pre-tender meeting will be held on 31 May, followed by a site visit on 26 May.

The second meeting will be on 1 July, and a site visit on 2 July. Queries must be submitted by 4 August.

Seven groups have been prequalified to bid for the CFP  packages. The joint venture leaders are:

  • Chiyoda (Japan)
  • Fluor (US)                                           
  • JGC Corporation (Japan)
  • KBR (US)
  • Petrofac (UK)
  • Saipem (Italy)
  • Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain)

The CFP covers the upgrade of the Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries, boosting their combined capacity to 800,000 barrels a day (b/d) from 736,000 b/d currently. The project has been split into three packages, with prequalified consortiums only permitted to bid on a maximum of two of the three packages available. Two packages cover Mina Abdullah, while the third is for Mina al-Ahmadi.

The scheme has taken years to get to this point. The Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), the highest decision-making body in Kuwait’s oil and gas sector, was expected to approve the deal in early 2011, with tenders floated the same year.

However, KNPC only invited firms to prequalify for the deal in April 2012, and did not announce the qualified groups until the middle of March, almost a year later.

The last few months have seen some progress. In December 2012, South Korea’s Samsung C&T was approved for a civil works deal ahead of the main EPC packages.

Germany’s Siemens has already submitted the lowest priced bid for the supply of a 132KV substation, which will feed power to the electrical drives and auxillary systems to contractors when they finally being work on the CFP.

Bids are also due to be submitted on 30 April for a separate EPC deal to build new units at the refineries, including a fluid catalytic converter and sour water treatment unit.