MESC’s bid of $160 million is about $15 million lower than the price offered by China’s Sinopec. The other bidders on the project are Germany’s Uhde, Italy’s Tecnimontand Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas. MESC has bid in partnership with the engineering arm of the local Oil Industries Engineering Company. Contract negotiations are to start in late February after Petrochemical Industrial Development Management Company (Pidmco)confirms MESC as the preferred bidder.

The new HDPE unit will have capacity of 300,000 tonnes a year (t/y) and is scheduled to come on stream in 2006. It will use ethane, C3+ and C5 cuts as feedstock, supplied by National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC)from the nearby Ilam gas field.

The bid deadline for the other project at Ilam, a 318,000-t/y ethane cracker, has been extended to 3 April. Prospective bidders for the contract include France’s Technip, Germany’s Lindeand South Korea’s Daelim Engineering & Construction.