South Korean firms are the front runners to win two main construction contracts to expand state-owned Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company’s (Takreer’s) refinery at Ruwais on the Gulf coast, according to contractors bidding for the work.

Eight contractors contacted by MEED say that SK Engineering & Construction submitted the lowest bid of $2.2bn for the first contract, to build a crude-distillation unit. A consortium of Japan’s Toyo and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries was the runner-up, with a bid of $2.3bn.

GS Engineering & Construction submitted the lowest bid of $3bn for the second contract, to build a residual-fluid catalytic cracker unit. France’s Technip bid $3.5bn.The crude-distillation unit breaks down crude oil into components, such as the petroleum product naphtha and basic chemical benzene. The cracker breaks up heavier oil components into lighter and more valuable products.

Takreer plans to expand the capacity of its Ruwais refining complex from 417,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 817,000 b/d by 2014.

The contractors say that Takreer is keen to award the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deals as quickly as possible.

“It is really keen to push ahead with the projects, so I would imagine it will try to get letters of award together as quickly as possible,” says the business development manager of one firm that bid for the contract to build the crude-distillation unit.

Two other contracts on the project are out to tender: an offsites and utilities contract and a marine facilities deal. Takreer asked international engineering firms to prepare final bids for the deals by 26 October, but pushed back the date until 11 November after changes to the project’s design.

The offsites and utilities package covers the construction of the infrastructure required by Takreer to expand the refinery.

The winner of the marine facilities contract will build a series of jetties and associated infrastructure at the Ruwais site.