Four firms are understood to be considering bidding for the estimated $500m engineering, procurement and construction contract.

They are Chemoprojekt of the Czech Republic, the US’ KBR, Germany’s Uhde and Chiyoda Corporation of Japan. A deadline of early June has been set for the submission of commercial bids with an award made soon after.

The new urea plant will have a capacity of 3,250 tonnes a day and will use technology licensed from Stamicarbon of The Netherlands. The plant will use ammonia, which is produced at the complex and destined for export, as feedstock (MEED 24:2:08).

Safco originally postponed plans for the project in 2007 because of rising costs, according to Ahmed al-Qahtani, general manager of operations and planning at the fertiliser strategic business unit of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), Safco’s main shareholder (MEED 7:12:08).

However, the rising price of urea fertiliser on the international market made going ahead with the urea train more attractive.

Safco is the kingdom’s only world-scale fertiliser complex. Sabic and Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) are building a multi-billion-dollar phosphate-based fertiliser complex at Ras al-Zour.