The long-awaited signing of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to upgrade the country’s second largest refinery at Azzawiya looks set to take place by 15 October, when the German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visits Tripoli.

The Libyan government has given verbal approval for Azzawiya Refinery Company ( ARC) to go ahead with the $280 million deal with Germany’s Uhde, but negotiations have stalled since the start of the year. The inclusion of an Uhde representative in the Chancellor’s delegation provides the opportunity, say sources close to the project, for contract negotiations to be completed.

Uhde was one of eight bidders when ARC first tendered the contract in 2001. Paris-based Technipwas awarded a letter of intent in February 2002, but later declined to submit revised prices, and the contract was awarded to LG Engineering & Construction of South Korea. When the Korean firm terminated its contract in May 2003, ARC was forced to reissue the contract late last year. The contract calls for the installation of a new continuous catalytic reformer (CCR) unit, naphtha and gas/oil hydrotreaters and an isomerisation unit at the 120,000-barrel-a-day plant (MEED 13:8:04).