Further progress on the contracts for KNPC’s Clean Fuels Project is now thought to rely on a resolution of a contract dispute at the associated Al-Zour refinery.

It was not clear how many contractors have applied to prequalify for the Clean Fuels Project contracts, but a number of sources close to the process tell MEED that a large number of companies applied.

The Clean Fuels Project covers the upgrade of the Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries to boost their combined capacity to 800,000 barrels a day (b/d) from 736,000 b/d. Prequalification had originally been due in September 2008.

The project is split into three packages. One covers process units at Mina Abdullah. Another involves process and revamp work, as well as offsites and utilities, at Mina Abdullah and the state’s third refinery at Shuaiba. The final package covers the entire scope of facilities and services at Mina al-Ahmadi.

Companies are being shortlisted to bid for all three packages.

“Prequalification closed at the end of January,” one of the bidding contractors tells MEED. “There is no separation of the qualification for EPC [for each contract], and as far as I know there will still be three packages to bid for.”

KNPC reopened the prequalification process for contractors on the Clean Fuels Project in January 2009 after lengthy delays incurred during the previous year due to a related contract dispute on the Al-Zour refinery.

It is not known what the new timeline for either project is (MEED 6:1:09).

Contractors had previously been told that KNPC wants to resolve the dispute over the 615,000-b/d Al-Zour project before pressing ahead with the Clean Fuels Project (MEED 26:9:08).

Sources at several Kuwait-based contractors say that they have heard no news on Al-Zour since the bid deadline for front end engineering and design (FEED) for pipelines had been extended to 10 February (MEED 8:1:09).