The contract, which covers the front-end engineering and design and project management of the multi-billion-dollar expansion, was originally due to have been awarded by the already-postponed deadline of late June. However, the client is now understood to be looking at awarding the deal by October (MEED 27:5:08).

It is unclear why the client decided to delay the process further, but it is thought it now wants to complete its $10bn first phase before starting work on the design of the expansion.

Two contractors – Italy’s Tecnimont and Japan’s JGC Corporation – are competing for the consultancy deal.

The first phase of Petro-Rabigh is due to come on stream later this year. A joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Company, it is the first project in the region to integrate an existing refinery with a petrochemicals complex.

The second phase involves the expansion of the ethane cracker and aromatics complex, and the construction of at least 15 downstream chemical production plants (MEED 17:1:08).