Safco has not yet set a deadline for the submission of bids, but contractors expect it to be in early August with a contract award by the end of the year. The three prospective bidders are Germany’s Krupp Uhde, the US’ Halliburton-KBRand Italy’s Snamprogetti.

The contract will call for the construction of new urea and ammonia trains at the Jubail complex, to increase production by about 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of each. The last expansion project was brought on stream in January 2000, when a 500,000-t/y ammonia unit and a 600,000-t/y urea unit were added, bringing total capacity to 1.2 million t/y of ammonia and 1.5 million t/y of urea at the Jubail and Dammam complexes combined.

Sabic now has a fertiliser capacity of 5.7 million t/y from Safco and two other affiliates, Al-Jubail Fertiliser Company (Samad)and National Chemical Fertiliser Company (Ibn al-Baytar). Ibn al-Baytar was in 2000 merged with Safco, through the latter’s acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in the former. Sabic is the world’s leading urea exporter, mainly selling to India, the Far East and Africa.