Germany’s Linde Group has emerged as the frontrunner to be awarded the package to supply hydrogen and other gases to the $20bn Sadara Chemical Company complex being built at Jubail in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Bids for the package were submitted during the second half of 2011 and have been under evaluation by Sadara since that time.

“Because of the nature of the contract Sadara has been able to take its time evaluating the bids,” says a contracting source based in the kingdom. “Linde are definitely in the driving seat to be awarded a contract.”

The plant will be built on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis and will be self-financed by the successful contractor. This model is also known as ‘over the fence’ and is fast becoming the accepted way to build gas plants in the Middle East.  

The method requires a large upfront investment of up to $500m and also requires the requisite technology to build the facility.

The 50:50 joint venture partners behind the Sadara complex are Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical. The plant is the largest single phase petrochemicals complex ever constructed and will produce more than 3 million tonnes a year of speciality chemicals when completed.