Saudi Aramco will not release the tenders for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts at its Ras Tanura refinery clean fuels and aromatics project in the Eastern Province until the second quarter of 2013.

Contracting sources in the kingdom say the delay is due to the front-end engineering and design [feed] phase being extended to include a number of extra features to the original scope of works planned by the oil major.

“We were expecting tenders to come in late 2012, but we are hearing that the feed phase keeps getting extended,” says a contracting source based in Saudi Arabia. “This is a positive sign for us because it probably means more work will be made available and the budget will be higher than the original estimate.”

The source adds that the original estimate of about $2bn will be increased by at least another $1bn.

The US’ Jacobs Engineering is carrying out the feed and was not available for comment when contacted by MEED. The original feed amounted to about 400,000 man-hours in total, but this figure has risen considerably according to sources in the kingdom.

The scope of works for the scheme will include carrying out feed services for the inside and outside battery limits, as well as modifications to the refinery to bring it in line with environmental regulations. An aromatics cracker will also be added, which will allow for a far greater diversity of products being made at the plant

The first contract to be tendered will be the site preparation works, which should still be tendered in 2012 to give the winning bidder enough time to prepare the site for the major works. This contract will be available to local contractors only.  

MEED reported in March that at least three packages will be made available to contractors, as well as the site preparation. There will be two packages for the process facilities, including an aromatics unit, plus offsites and utilities.

Aramco has prequalified contractors for the project. Prequalified contractors include:

  • Chiyoda Corporation (Japan)
  • Daelim Industrial (South Korea)
  • GS Engineering and Construction (South Korea)
  • Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • JGC Corporation (Japan)
  • Petrofac (UK)
  • Saipem (Italy)
  • Samsung Engineering (South Korea)
  • Sinopec (China)
  • SK Engineering and Construction (South Korea)
  • Technip (France)
  • Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain)

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 barrels a day (b/d). The state-owned oil company is currently upgrading its domestic refining capacity to both lower the sulphur content of its downstream output, as well as to diversify the amount of refined products it produces.