DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. seeks to reduce the cost of its joint venture refinery project at Jubail on the Persian Gulf with Total S.A. (TOT) to below $10 billion amid falling commodity and equipment prices, a company official said Monday.
Aramco and Total will receive bids from contractors for the project's five biggest contracts by the end of April, with cost expected to be well below the level anticipated last year, Samir Al Tuayyeb, chairman of Saudi Aramco Total Refining Co. told reporters on the sidelines of a Dubai energy conference.
"If it's not below $10 billion it would raise scrutiny of the project," Al Tuayyeb, who is also Aramco director for employee relations and training, said.
Aramco, the world's largest oil company, and Total signed in June 2008 the agreement to build their project in Jubail, on Saudi's east coast, originally estimated to cost at least $12 billion.
Asked whether the project would be shelved if bids aren't below $10 billion, he said: "if the price is not right then we'll have to reconsider."
Total and Aramco extended the bidding period for the 400,000-barrel a day export refinery twice to take into account the fall in commodity prices and construction cost.
"We started bidding while at the peak of the cycle," Al Tuayyeb said. "The delay is because we're trying to give contractors a better chance to understand commodity markets and construction markets in the future."
The refinery, to be one of the kingdom's largest, is still expected to start up in 2013, he added. In total, the joint venture partners are tendering 15 project packages, two of which have already been awarded to local firms.
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