Saudi Aramco is close to awarding four separate contracts worth a total of $500m covering the supply of long-lead equipment for its planned 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) export refinery at Yanbu on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

Aramco and US contractor KBR hope to award the deals in October, according to a source expecting to bid for work on Yanbu.

KBR is managing the selection process due to its role as the combined front-end engineering and design (Feed) and programme management services contractor on the refinery. US oil major ConocoPhillips is Aramco’s joint venture partner on the facility.

The four deals cover the procurement of a coke drum, a hydrocracker reactor, a compressor and turbine driver, and a distributed control system. Japanese firms are likely win three of the contracts, according to the source.

The source says the frontrunner for the coke drum contract is Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, while Japan Steel Works should win the hydrocracker reactor package.

Aramco and KBR are in the final stages of selecting a company for the compressor and turbine driver deal. The source expects the pair to name Japanese technology specialist Yokogawa Corporation as the supplier for the plant’s distributed control system.

In June, the joint venture invited 29 prequalified international contractors to bid by 31 January 2010 for the six largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages on the Yanbu refinery, worth more than $7bn in total (MEED 19:6:09).

The six packages are a $1.2bn coker unit, a $970m crude facility, a $2.3bn gasoline unit, a $1.2bn hydrocracker, a $900m tank farm, and a $450m facility handling solids.

The source says Aramco and KBR have excluded the long-lead items from the EPC packages.

“These long-lead item contracts will be transferred to the successful EPC contractors from Aramco and KBR once construction awards have been made next year,” says the source.

In August, KBR won an additional engineering and procurement deal for work on the refinery (MEED 6:8:09).

KBR’s new contract covers detailed engineering and procurement services for the utilities package, interconnecting systems and pipe racks.