The technology selection, expected to take place by May, will help to finalise the exact configuration of the expansion and allow Qafco to begin preparing the invitation to bid (ITB) package. Qafco has in the past talked about building separate urea and ammonia units with capacity in the range of 3,000-3,600 t/d each. In addition to the new production, the expansion will require new utilities. ‘We anticipate about 120 MW of power and a steam generating capacity of 480 tonnes an hour,’ said Al-Mannai. ‘We will also require new seawater cooling, maybe with cooling towers, and new desalination and nitrogen plants.’

The ITB package is scheduled to be released to contractors in September, although a final decision has still to be taken on the contracting model. ‘We are well aware of the resource constraints and the tight EPC contractor environment in the Gulf,’ said Al-Mannai. ‘We are therefore looking at other options to the traditional lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) approach. Also, we believe that, by providing a proper scope definition, this will help attract bidders.’