Oman Oil Refineries & Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) has prequalified contractors for the estimated $1.2bn expansion of its refinery in Sohar, northern Oman.

Orpic is aiming to increase the refinery’s production capacity to 187,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the existing 116,000 b/d by the middle of 2016.

The Oman Daily Observer reported that nine international companies are competing for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, in a list dominated by South Korean contractors.

South Korean groups Daelim Industrial Company, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Samsung Engineering and SK Engineering & Construction, prequalifed, as did GS Engineering & Construction, in partnership with India’s Larson & Toubro.

The other prequalifiers are Japan’s JGC Corporation, Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas and France’s Technip, the Muscat-based newspaper said.

The front-end engineering design (feed) phase of the project, which is being carried out by Chicago Bridge & Iron (CB&I), is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Orpic, a joint venture between Oman Refineries & Petrochemicals Company, Aromatics Oman and Oman Polypropylene, operates the sultanate’s two refineries at Sohar and Mina al-Fahal, near Muscat.

A larger third refinery is being planned in Duqm, central Oman, by a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) and Oman Oil Company (OOC).