The firms are competing for the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the plant, known as LDPE-3.

The plant will have capacity of 250,000 tonnes a year (t/y), which could be expanded in the future to 300,000 t/y. Basell, of the Netherlands, is supplying the technology.

The plant’s front-end engineering design is being carried out by Germany’s Uhde and is due to be completed soon (MEED 27:4:07).

“The prequalification bids from the prospective EPC contractors shortlisted by Basell have been received and are under evaluation,” says Mohammed al-Mulla, general manager at Qapco. “Tender documents are expected to be issued to the qualified bidders in June. The total cost of the project along with the central control room is around $410m.”

Qapco says it expects to approach banks about the project finance element for the plant by the end of the year. It hopes the plant itself will be commissioned by the end of 2011.

Ethylene feedstock for the facility will come from Qapco’s second ethylene expansion project at Ras Laffan, which came onstream last year, and from Qatofin, a joint venture between France’s Total Petrochemicals, Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Qapco.

The two sources should provide more than 1 million t/y of ethylene, which will be supplied by pipeline (MEED 2:6:06).