State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has invited contractors to a meeting where it will present plans for an estimated $700m sulphur handling facility at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery.

Some 20 international and local engineering firms were invited to attend the meeting on 28 September so KNPC can gauge interest in the scheme.

Germany’s Thyssen Krupp completed the front-end engineering and design (feed) for the facility in mid-September, so engineering, procurement and construction contract tenders are expected to be launched in the first half of 2012, say contractor sources in the country.

Hatem al-Awadhi, KNPC’s deputy managing director for projects, recently described the sulphur project as the most important of the schemes currently under study.

With a combined capacity of 936,000 barrels a day, Kuwait’s three refineries currently produce a total of about 850,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of sulphur at present. KNPC’s parent company, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) plans to raise sulphur production to 2 million t/y by 2015.

The project is part of Kuwait’s preparation before it can receive gas from the offshore Dorra field, by upgrading sulphur recovery units and loading facilities at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery. Liquid sulphur will be granulated for easy handling and storage before being loaded on to ships for export (MEED 6:7:11).