State-refiner, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) has invited local and international civil construction firms to prequalify by 5 March for preparatory works at the long-awaited New Refinery Project (NRP) in the south of Kuwait.

The deal is the latest sign of movement on the 615,000 barrel a day (b/d) refinery, coming ahead of the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) preqaulification and tenders.

It also follows the approval in early December, of South Korean contractor Samsung Construction & Trading for a $136.4m deal for civil works for the $18bn Clean Fuels Project (CFP), the second of Kuwait’s major downstream plans.

The NRP will be built on sites to the west and north of the existing Al-Zour power station covering between 13 and 14 square kilometers.

KNPC says its geotechnical investigations have confirmed the presence of weak soils and high water table levels at the site. As such, the project may require the use of soil improvement techniques to remediate the weak soil and raise the rough grade above the water table. Offshore dredging work will also be required for backfilling of about 60 million cubic meters.