Fujairah-based Vopak Horizons plans to award the deal to expand its oil terminal in the emirate before the end of March, five months after contractors submitted bids.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract will be awarded before the end of the first quarter of 2010, confirms a source close to the company, without explaining the reason for the delay.

Contractors bidding for the deal say the company has been finalising financing for the project and they have been told to expect an award by the end of March.

The winning bidder will add 600,000 cubic metres of storage facilities. The terminal’s current capacity is 1.5 million cubic metres.

The contract now does not cover the addition of new berths at the terminal, as originally expected.

Vopak originally planned to add 1.2 million cubic metres and between four and six berths. However, it decided to split the development into two phases following in-house engineering and design studies (MEED 7:8:09).

Italy’s Belleli Energy, the local Audex, the US’ Chicago Bridge & Iron, and India’s Punj Lloyd and Tata Projects submitted prices for the work in the 10 October bid round.

Fujairah is expected to become an increasingly important location for oil storage and distribution when Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Construction Company commissions a new pipeline measuring 370 kilometres. It will be able to transport up to 1.5 million barrels a day of oil between the emirates in late 2011.