Uhde’s main competitor for the contract was a team of Italy’s Snamprogettiwith Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The other bidders were Japan’s Toyo Engineering Corporationand Halliburton KBRof the US with Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation.

The expansion project involves the addition of new urea and ammonia production lines at the complex, each with capacity of about 1 million tonnes a year (t/y). Safco’s capacity currently stands at about 1.2 million t/y of ammonia and 1.5 million t/y of urea.

The selection comes at a time of rising profitability for Safco. The company on 10 April announced that it had increased net profits to SR 85 million ($26.6 million) in the first three months of 2003, up from SR 23.4 million ($6.24 million) for the same period last year. Safco vice-chairman and managing director Mohamed al-Mady said that the higher profits were fuelled by a 2 per cent increase in output and a 24 per cent rise in sales volumes, combined with improved prices for ammonia and urea.