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Intense Bidding Seen to Expand Saudi PetroRabigh

Source: Reuters 6/8/2011, Location: Middle East

Saudi-based contractors expect fierce competition in bidding for the expansion of PetroRabigh petrochemical complex as firms strive for more work in the world's largest oil exporter.

Bidding on seven packages as part of the expansion for the complex, jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, is due to close on Oct. 1, said sources close to the bidding process. Another three packages have not yet been issued.

PetroRabigh, in Rabigh on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, now has an annual output of 18 million tonnes of refined products and 2.4 million tonnes of petrochemicals.
The award of the new deals is expected early next year while the project -- Rabigh II -- is due to be completed in the first quarter of 2015, sources said.

As part of the expansion, estimated to cost between $6 billion and $8 billion, partners would look to increase the capacity of the existing ethane cracker to take in an additional 30 million cubic feet per day of feedstock ethane. The venture would build a number of other petrochemicals plants including an aromatics complex using around 3 million tonnes per year of naphtha as feedstock.

"This time everybody is there, all are there," said one source, referring to the bidders. "There is no doubt the process is going to be very tough, but everybody is committed, we are going to fight for it," the source added. "This is the year of petrochemicals investments, everybody was waiting," he said. Bidding has already started for another petrochemical complex in Jubail, on the Gulf coast shared by Aramco and U.S. Dow Chemical.

Rabigh II and the new complex with Dow are set to almost double Aramco's chemicals manufacturing capacity and would add a number of products new in the Middle East.

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