Saudi Aramco has invited companies to bid on the two main packages of its Ras Tanura refinery Clean Fuels Project, according to sources familiar with the scheme.

Contractors have been given a deadline of 11 May to submit engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bids for the estimated $3bn project located on the kingdom’s Gulf coast.

International companies prequalified to bid on the two packages in the second half of 2015.

Prequalified bidders for package 1 – the main process units – are understood to include:

Aramco also plans to float a second tender for the offsites and utilities. The prequalifiers are understood to include:

The Ras Tanura scheme was meant to have been awarded in late 2013 or early 2014, but was ear-marked for retendering after the original bids came in well over Aramco’s preferred budget.

The naphtha and toluene package was to be split into units with the following capacities:

  • Naphtha hydrotreater – 140,000 barrels a day (b/d)
  • Catalytic cracking reformer – 90,000 b/d
  • Isomerisation – 65,000 b/d
  • Toluene – 70,000 b/d

Aramco resurrected the project after the long-awaited scheme was put on hold in January 2015 due to Aramco wanting to manage its cash flow and ring-fence more essential projects, industry sources told MEED.

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, along with Jizan in the southwest of the kingdom and Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. However, these plans are almost certain to stall by several years as oil prices remain low.

US-based engineering group Jacobs was awarded the front-end engineering and design (feed) study and the project management study (PMC) related works on the project, it was revealed in August 2012.

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 b/d.