Saudi Aramco is preparing to invite companies to bid on the two main packages on its Ras Tanura refinery clean fuels project in January 2016, according to sources familiar with the project.

The state-owned oil companies has prequalified several international engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies to bid on the tender for the estimated $3bn project located on the kingdom’s Gulf coast.

Prequalified bidders for package 1 – the main process units – are understood to include:

  • CTCI Corporation (Taiwan)
  • Daelim (South Korea)
  • GS Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • JGC Corporation (Japan)
  • Saipem (Italy)
  • Samsung Engineering (South Korea)
  • Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain)

Aramco also plans to float a second tender for the offsites and utilities. The prequalifiers are understood to include:

  • Daewoo Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Hanwha Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Intecsa Industrial (Spain)
  • Larsen & Toubro (India)
  • Petrofac (UK)

The Ras Tanura scheme was meant to have been awarded in late 2013 or early 2014, but was earkmarked for retendering after the original bids came in well over Aramco’s preferred budget.

The naphtha and toluene package was to be split into units with the following capacities:

  • Naphtha hydrotreater – 140,000 barrels a day (b/d)
  • Catalytic cracking reformer – 90,000 b/d
  • Isomerisation – 65,000 b/d
  • Toluene – 70,000 b/d

Aramco resurrected the project after the long-awaited scheme was put on hold in January 2015 due to Aramco wanting to manage its cash flow and ring-fence more essential projects, industry sources told MEED.

Ras Tanura has also been earmarked as a potential site for additional petrochemicals production facilities, as part of the kingdom’s refining petrochemicals integration initiative, along with Jizan in the southwest of the kingdom and Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. However, these plans are almost certain to stall by several years as oil prices remain low.

US-based engineering group Jacobs was awarded the front-end engineering and design (feed) study and the project management study (PMC) related works on the project, it was revealed in August 2012.

The Ras Tanura refinery is fully owned by Saudi Aramco and is the largest oil facility in Saudi Arabia, with a capacity of 550,000 b/d.