A refinery in Ras Tanura began operations in 1941 with a 3,000-barrels-a-day (b/d) capacity, but shortages during World War Two meant it was shut within six months. It was replaced in 1945 by a refinery with a capacity of 50,000 b/d and by the mid-1980s it had become a 250,000-b/d facility.

A 200,000-b/d condensate splitter was added in 2003, which was later increased to 225,000 b/d, taking the refinery’s capacity to 550,000 b/d.

Although its initial start-up was more than 60 years ago, the facility has been expanded many times since and it is a key asset in the kingdom’s refining operations.

In recent years, projects worth $3.8bn have been awarded on the Ras Tanura refinery, highlighting its continued importance. This has included $1.8bn across two packages for a clean fuels project to reduce the sulphur content in its petrol.

Both packages suffered delays in the tender process, but were finally awarded in late 2016 to Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas. The engineering, procurement and construction contracts cover the main process units, and offsites and utilities. Work is due to be completed in 2021.

Early works and site preparation packages, valued at $400m, were awarded to the local Nesma & Partners in early 2016 and are close to completion.