State-refiner, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has prequalified ten firms to bid on an estimated $700m deal to build a new sulphur handling facility at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery, 45-kilometres south of Kuwait City.

Interested engineering and construction firms had been asked to submit prequalification documents to KNPC in May, after at least twenty firms were invited to a meeting with KNPC in late 2011. Now almost a year on, KNPC has now announced the firms that will be allowed to bid. Contractor sources are sceptical that an invitation to tender will be issued before the end of the year.

As expected, the list includes seven South Korean engineering firms, along with three from Europe.

The project covers the revamp of existing sulphur granulators, conveyors stackers, re-claimers and the ship and truck loaders.

It also includes the installation of new granulators (5,000 tonnes a day), liquid storage tanks (14,880 tonnes), feed pumps, rectangular storage (145,000 tonnes), stacker/reclaimer, conveyor (1,500 tonnes an hour), ship loader, off-shore loading terminal (60,000 deadweight tonnes).

Front-end engineering design (feed) work on facility was completed by Germany-based ThyssenKrupp in mid-September 2011.