Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas won the front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract on 10 May for an estimated $350m diesel hydrotreater and sulphur recovery unit at Ras Laffan.

International engineering firms including included the US’ Foster Wheeler, Italy’s Saipem and India’s Punj Lloyd submitted technical bids on 10 March. Laffan Refinery Company had been expected to be award at the end of March, but this was pushed back on concerns over feedstock supplies (MEED 23:3:10).

Sources close to the deal say the project faces a lack of hydrogen feedstock, and contractors now expect the construction of the unit to be delayed until the second-phase expansion of the refinery.

Doha plans to double refining capacity at its Ras Laffan condensate refinery, with an estimated $1bn expansion project adding approximately 140,000 barrels a day (b/d).

Contractors expect Qatar to issue at least three tenders in the coming months, with the energy & industry minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah saying work could start in 2011.

The hydrotreater complex is aimed at reducing the sulphur content in the diesel produced at the refinery.

Laffan Refinery Company is a joint venture of state-energy firm Qatar Petroleum, France’s Total, the US’ ExxonMobil and four Japanese firms; Cosmo Oil Idemitsu, Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui. The refinery which started production less than a year ago in September 2009 is Qatar’s first to process condensates from the country’s giant North field.