Saudi extends clean fuels bid deadline

State oil giant Saudi Aramco has extended the deadline for companies to bid for construction of a clean fuels and aromatics project at its largest refinery in Ras Tanura, three industry sources said. Bids are now due by October 20, pushed back from September 8, for the multi-billion-dollar project. ‘Bidders requested an extension as there were so many additions to the scope of work,’ one of the sources said.

The world’s top oil exporter has embarked on a programme to upgrade its refineries as part of a shift by Middle Eastern refiners to produce cleaner fuels for export markets. Aramco has also extended the date for bids to build a 2,400 megawatt (MW) power plant to supply electricity to its new 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery in Jizan, sources said, after companies asked for more time to prepare their offers.

The Ras Tanura clean fuels and aromatics project due on line by 2016 is part of Aramco’s second phase of its refineries upgrade. It will also help supply a new petrochemicals joint venture with Dow Chemical. It includes a naphtha hydrotreater among other units and will have an annual production capacity of around 1 million metric tonnes of aromatics. In March, Aramco shut its joint venture refinery with ExxonMobil for nearly two months to bring a $2 billion clean fuels project on line.

The state-run firm is building three new refineries in Saudi Arabia, one in the East with France’s Total, one near the Red Sea city of Yanbu with China’s Sinopec, and another at Jizan, near the border with Yemen. All will produce cleaner fuels and some petrochemicals. The new power plant to supply the Jizan refinery will use integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology to convert vacuum residue fuel from the refinery into a synthetic gas. Construction of the project is split into four parts. Bids for three have been extended to October 9, while the remaining package known as the gasification unit is extended to October 23. The Jizan refinery, currently under construction, is likely to be delayed by 6 to 12 months, because work on associated infrastructure is behind schedule, sources said in July.

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