The decision came after contractors expressed concerns over the security situation in the area. The Nahrain site is in the heart of the ongoing insurgency to the south of the capital. Political wrangling in Baghdad also saw the Shia majority push for the refinery to be located in its provinces.

As a result, a revised bidding schedule will be issued by the end of October, inviting contractors to submit bids in December. According to senior sources at the ministry, the tender is unlikely to see any changes to the scope of works. The project calls for the engineering, procurement and supervision of erection and commissioning and testing of the process units, tank farm, offsites and utilities and pipelines.

The project, which will cost at least $1,000 million, also includes the installation of instrumentation, control and communications systems. The successful bidder will have the option to carry out construction work on the facility. SCOP has already completed the initial front-end engineering and design (FEED) work.

Plans are also moving ahead for the construction of the 70,000-b/d refinery in the Koya area, some 60 kilometres northeast of Kirkuk. International contractors were given until 3 October to purchase tender documents for the project with bids now due to be submitted by 11 November.