State-owned oil major Saudi Aramco is to retender the Ras Tanura refinery clean fuels and aromatics project in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

MEED reported in February that Aramco was considering the option to retender the work after the initial bids for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages came in almost $2bn over the initial budget for the scheme.

The project is now expected to be retendered in the third quarter of 2014 with a revised scope that could see the paraxylene production facilities dropped from the programme to cut costs from the budget. This should lower the budget to about $4bn.  

If paraxylene is dropped, the two remaining packages will be:  

  • Naphtha and aromatics processing facilities
  • Offsite and utilities

Before the decision to retender, Aramco had discussions with Japan’s JGC Corporation and South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction regarding the two technical packages for the scheme. It also had sole discussions with JGC for the offsites and utilities package.

The scope of works will include carrying out EPC services for the inside and outside battery limits, as well as a rehabilitation of the refinery to ensure it meets environmental regulations. An aromatics cracker will also be added, which will allow for far greater diversity of products to be manufactured at the plant.

The US’ Jacobs Engineering is carrying out the feed and the original scope amounted to a total of about 400,000 man-hours. This figure has since at least doubled.

The Ras Tanura refinery is fully owned by Aramco and is the largest oil facility in Saudi Arabia, with a capacity of 550,000 barrels a day (b/d). The company is currently upgrading its domestic refining capacity to lower the sulphur content of its downstream output and diversify the amount of refined products it manufactures.

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.