Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer) has set a deadline of 15 March for technical bids on its Ruwais lubricant oil refinery.

Takreer had originally set the deadline for engineering proposals on 24 February, but moved the deadline at the request of contractors.

A tentative 19 April deadline has been set for final commercial bids, although this is also likely to be pushed back, according to firms studying the deal.

At least nine international firms are prequalified for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal.

Among the prequalified contractors are various South Korean firms: SK Engineering & Construction, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Engineering, and Hanwha Corporation. Other companies authorised to bid on the deal include Paris-based Technip, Taiwan’s China Technical Consultants, Japan’s Toyo, Germany’s Uhde and the UK’s Petrofac.

The winner of the EPC deal will build a 300,000-barrel-a-day base oil refinery. Base oils are heavy grades of oil commonly used as industrial lubricants. Takreer currently blends the base oils into fuel oil and then sells this on the open market. The project is valued at about $500m.

Abu Dhabi is a net importer of base oils and Takreer wants to use the plant to meet domestic demand and turn the emirate into a net exporter.

Sources close to the project say Samsung is a strong contender for the deal because of its experience on similar projects in South Korea and elsewhere in the Middle East. In August 2008, the company was awarded a $314m EPC contract to build a new base oils refinery at Sitra for Bahrain Petroleum Company and Finland’s Neste Oil.