‘Shell has started an initial scouting exercise for contractors,’ says a Sasref official. ‘A tender is targeted to be issued by the third quarter, subject to approval by the [Sasref] board. We are working on finalising capacity, configuration and end products of the expansion.’ The FEED contract is planned to be awarded in October.

Estimated to cost $250 million-300 million, the expansion will involve the construction of a diesel hydrocracker, hydrogen processing unit, sulphur recovery and sour water treatment units, reactors, separators and related facilities. Sasref has already carried out an initial feasibility for the project.

Sasref, a 50:50 joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Shell, operates the 305,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery, which receives its Arabian light crude from Aramco.

In late May, Sasref announced the award of two contracts worth a total of $90 million to Petrocon Arabia (PAL), the in-kingdom affiliate of Australia’s WorleyParsons, and Japan’s Yokogawa Middle East (YME) as part of its phase 2 refinery instrumentation upgrade masterplan (IMP) scheme.