Fujairah-based Vopak Horizons will make a final decision on the winner of a contract to expand its oil terminal in the emirate by 15 April, according to sources close to the bidding process.

Contractors in talks over the deal have named Italy’s Belleli Energy as the favourite to win the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal, to add 600,000 cubic metres of storage facilities. The terminal’s current storage capacity is 1.5 million cubic metres.

The oil storage and distribution company is also reviewing bids for an offshore construction contract related to the project. A source close to Vopak told MEED in February that the deals would be awarded by the end of the first quarter, and it remains unclear why the tender process has been delayed (MEED 8:2:10)

“Things will be clearer after 15 April, when they will be making their final decisions,” one source close to the bidding process tells MEED.

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

Belleli, 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 Investment Company commissions a new pipeline linking oil processing and distribution facilities at Habshan in Abu Dhabi and export facilities at Fujairah, measuring 370 kilometres.

It will be able to transport up to 1.5 million barrels a day of oil between the emirates from late 2011, allowing distribution companies to bypass the congested Strait of Hormuz when exporting oil products from the emirate.