The Saudi Arabian and Japanese joint venture partners behind the Petro-Rabigh refinery and petrochemicals complex are prequalifying companies for its planned $5bn phase II expansion.

Japan’s JGC Corporation is carrying out the front-end engineering and design (feed), with the tender for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages set to be released in the next three months (MEED 19:6:09).

“This is the next big project in the kingdom and a lot of contractors will be getting ready to bid on this,” a contracting source says. “We are expecting the tender to be released before the end of the second quarter.”

The exact scope of the expansion has not yet been released, so it is still unclear as to how many packages will be tendered for the project.

Due to the technical nature of the project, it is believed that consortium will be formed between EPC contractors and engineering companies.

“We are preparing to bid and will definitely look to join forces with one of the prequalified EPC contractors,” says a source from an engineering company in Saudi Arabia.  

The partners, Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical, plan to process an additional 30 million cubic feet a year of ethane and 3 million tonnes a year (t/y) of naphtha after the expansion.

They plan to achieve this by expanding the existing ethane cracker and aromatics unit, which processes naphtha at the facility.

The first phase of the project started production in November 2009 and produces more than 20 million-t/y of petroleum and petrochemicals products.