Italy’s Snamprogetti, US-based ABB Lummus Global and Paris-based Technip-Coflexipbid for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, which will see capacity at the plant rise to 8.25 million tonnes a year (t/y) from the existing 6.25 million t/y. Eight new units will be added to the refinery, including a hydrocracker unit, a hydrogen and sulphur production unit and a crude and vacuum distillation unit. The project will double the refinery’s production of diesel and increase gasoline production by 50 per cent.

UK-based Foster Wheeler Energy prepared the front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the expansion and was awarded the project management consultancy (PMC) contract in 2001. The client for the project is Societe Anonyme Marocaine de l’Industrie de Raffinage (Samir), which is 67 per cent owned by the Saudi-Swedish Corral Holdingsand has the monopoly on the kingdom’s refining industry (MEED 1:6:01).

The three contractors are due to submit commercial bids on 15 January. However, in view of the fire, a bid extension is likely. ‘We are not sure how the fire will affect the expansion,’ says one European executive following the project. ‘The level of damage is still unclear. Obviously, if it is extensive then the project may be delayed or even cancelled.’

The Mohammedia plant was shut down as a precautionary measure on 25 November, when levels at the nearby Oued el-Maleh river started to rise, but the waters soon swept through the refinery, sparking the fire. Production had still to be resumed in early December.

Speaking at a press conference in Casablanca on 28 November, Samir general manager Abderrahmane Saaidi put the initial cost of the damage at MD 1,500 million ($140 million) but added that the figure could rise once the full extent of the damage was known. Two distillation units at the plant were unaffected by the fire, Saaidi said, and would resume production in mid-December. Other units would take between eight months and a year before operating again, he added. Samir is understood to have insurance covering 96 per cent of costs, including those caused by fire damage.