Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) plans to tender a major project worth more than $500m before the end of 2009, according to executives close to the company and contractors working in the country.

The state refiner completed the design and feasibility studies for the acid-gas removal plant, which will be built at KNPC’s Mina al-Ahmadi refinery complex, in June.

KNPC’s board of directors agreed to tender the deal in early November.

Contractors hoping to bid on the contract say KNPC has told them it will release the tender documents in December.

They expect KNPC to award the deal before the end of 2010.

The deal is one of the few KNPC is tendering as part of its programme to produce clean fuel, a petroleum that meets international standards on sulphur emissions.

The winner of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract will build a gas-handling unit at the refinery as well as sweetening facilities that strip sulphur from gas, a sulphur-recovery unit and related infrastructure.

Two other clean fuel projects, a $15bn refinery at Al-Zour and the long-mooted revamp of the country’s existing refineries, have faced significant delays as a result of political opposition to major contracts being awarded to foreign companies.