Saudi Arabia expects to award a major construction contract by the end of December for its planned $7bn Jizan refinery on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast.

Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum & Mineral Resources Minister, said an award will be made on Jizan “hopefully by the end of the year”. Naimi was speaking at the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association Forum in Dubai on 9 December.

Companies submitted bids on 7 November for the 250,000 to 400,000-barrel-a-day facility.

In February 2009, the ministry prequalified eight local companies and six foreign firms to bid for the refinery. Under ministry rules, each bid must include at least one local firm and one international company.

The local companies who have prequalified are Abdel-Kader al-Bakry & Sons Industrialisation, Acwa Power Development, Advance Refining & Petrochemical Company, Arabian Peninsula for Industrialisation & Petroleum Services, Nama Chemicals, Obeikan Investments, Taqat and Tasnee.

Various foreign majors have also prequalified including Malaysia’s Petronas, India’s Reliance Industries, Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corporation, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Brazil’s Petrobras.