Aramco extends desulphurisation scheme deadline

16 March 2023

Saudi Aramco has allowed more time for bidders to submit proposals for a major desulphurisation programme to modify sulphur recovery units (SRUs) at key gas processing plants in the kingdom.

Aramco expects third-party investments of up to $2bn in the desulphurisation programme, which entails building a large downstream tail-gas treatment (TGT) facility to collect and process tail gas discharged from SRUs at identified gas plants, MEED reported in December 2021.

According to industry sources, the facility is to be developed on a build, own and operate (BOO) or build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis. This will make it one of Aramco’s initial public-private partnership (PPP) exercises, if not the first, in its main oil and gas business.

Aramco issued the main tender for the TGT facility in May last year, MEED previously reported. The Saudi energy giant has now extended the proposal submission deadline for bidders until 31 March, according to sources.

Bidders were initially required to submit proposals by 30 September last year. The proposal submission deadline was then moved to 15 December, and then extended again to 15 March this year.

Aramco issued expressions of interest (EoI) for the scheme on 18 October 2021 to several entities, sources previously said. Invited companies submitted EoI documents by 30 November of that year.

Among those understood to be bidding for the scheme are:

  • Vision Invest (Saudi Arabia) / Mitsui & Co (Japan) / JGC Corporation (Japan)
  • Lamar Holding (Saudi Arabia) / Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea) / Korea Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corporation (South Korea)/ Enerflex (Canada)
  • Gatti (Italy)/Spetco (Kuwait)/Standardkessel Baumgarte (Germany)/Knauf (Germany)

In a recent interview with MEED, Lamar Holding’s CEO Ramit Jain confirmed that the company was bidding for the TGT scheme in a team comprising South Korean government-owned Korean Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corporation and other entities.

SO2 reduction campaign

The Aramco programme is in line with the regulations for emissions to air from stationary sources set out by Saudi Arabia’s Environment, Water & Agriculture Ministry. These stipulate that sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from stationary sources must not exceed 250 parts per million volume (dry and 0 per cent oxygen basis). They must also comply with the SO2 ambient emission limits or ground-level SO2 concentration.

The rollout of the desulphurisation scheme stems from Aramco’s goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and is part of its environmental, social and governance initiatives, sources previously said.

Seven gas plants in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have been identified from which tail gas needs to be treated for up to 99.9 per cent SO2 removal:

  • Berri
  • Haradh
  • Hawiyah
  • Khursaniyah
  • Shedgum
  • Uthmaniyah
  • Wasit

The scope of the scheme has been split into two packages, one source said. The first package covers gas plants in Aramco’s Zone 1 – Berri, Khursaniyah and Wasit – while the second package relates to units in Zone 2 – Haradh, Hawiyah, Shedgum and Uthmaniyah.

Along with fully financing the project, the developer will need to adopt one of the following commercial desulphurisation technologies approved by Aramco for the scheme:

  • TGT reduction absorption
  • Ammonia-based desulphurisation
  • Dry sorbent injection
  • Flue gas desulphurisation using gypsum

According to Aramco, the project will cover “the end-to-end application of the approved technologies, including but not limited to required plot space, utilities, market analysis and logistics of feedstock and byproduct, contractual arrangements, risks associated with each technology related to safety, process reliability and SO2 emissions compliance on a continuous basis”.

Aramco expects the common TGT facility to be operational by 2027.

ALSO READ: Aramco prepares to tender carbon capture project

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Indrajit Sen
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