The partners behind an estimated $1bn plus petrochemicals project in Saudi Arabia have invited international engineering firms to bid on construction contracts for the scheme.

The local Saudi International Petrochemicals Company (Sipchem) and South Korea’s Hanwha Chemical sent out letters to prequalified engineering firms asking them to bid on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deals in the week ended 6 May.

The partners have asked the firms to submit technical bids by August and are yet to set a commercial bid date, sources close to the project tell MEED. The partners want to finalise the contracts before year end.

The EPC contracts cover the construction of a 200,000 tonne a year (t/y) ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) plant and a 125,000 t/y polyvinyl acetate conversion unit at Sipchem’s Jubail petrochemicals complex.

The contract is likely to be hotly contested by South Korean and Taiwanese firms including GS Engineering & Construction and China Technical Consultants (CTCI), says one source with knowledge of the project.

Sipchem and Hanwha Chemical signed a joint venture agreement to develop the plants in July 2009, and plan to complete construction by the end of 2014.