Kuwait has awarded a delayed $400m deal to build an acid-gas removal plant at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery to Italy’s Tecnimont.

The engineering firm emerged as the front runner to win the deal after submitting the lowest price of KD116m ($404m) in a 18 May bid round. Their proposal beat rival bids from China’s Sinopec, the UK’s Petrofac, Italy’s Saipem, GS Engineering & Construction and Hyundai Engineering & Construction, both of South Korea.

Tecnimont’s local partner in Kuwait is Mohamed Abdel Mohsen al-Kharafi & Sons. The partners will now build a gas-handling unit and gas-sweetening facilities, as well as a sulphur recovery unit and related infrastructure at the refinery 50 kilometres from Kuwait City. These facilities will strip sulphur from natural gas.  

Completed by the end of 2013, the plant will be capable of handling as much as 230 million cubic feet a day of gas and 78,000 barrels a day of condensates.

The deal was tendered by state-run refiner, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) in December 2009. Ten international engineering firms were prequalified for the deal. The US’ WorleyParsons carried out the feasibility study and front-end engineering and design work.

The deal is one of the few KNPC is tendering as part of its programme to produce cleaner fuels that meets international emissions standards.

A technical panel at Kuwait’s Supreme Petroleum Council, the highest decision making body in the country’s hydrocarbons sector, approved the building of a new $15bn refinery in June, but the Council is yet to make a final decision (MEED 3:6:10).

The refinery at Al-Zour and the long-awaited revamp of the country’s existing refineries, have been delayed as a result of political opposition to major contracts being awarded to foreign companies.