Kuwait may tap private sector for $14.5 bn oil refinery

Published June 29th, 2011 - 08:06 GMT

Kuwait may seek private investors to help build its largest oil refinery after a government council revived the KD4 billion ($14.5 billion) project, which stalled two years ago amid political opposition.

The Supreme Petroleum Council, the emirate’s highest decision-making body for oil policy, approved construction of the 615,000 barrel-a-day Al Zour facility, Oil Minister Mohammad Al Busairy said on Tuesday. The approval is “a very big step,” Al Busairy said in a telephone interview in Kuwait City. “We now have to follow all legal procedures to implement the project.”

The council authorised the plan on Monday, along with proposals to upgrade two of the country’s three existing refineries, Mina Al Ahmadi and Mina Abdulla, so that they can produce cleaner-burning fuels, the minister said.

Kuwait suspended the Al Zour project in March 2009 after opposition lawmakers said the government had circumvented the law in awarding contracts with foreign companies without going through the Central Tenders Committee.

The Gulf nation will seek a foreign partner for the new refinery, and “the public will own a minority share,” Kamel Al Harami, an independent oil analyst, said on Tuesday by telephone from London. 

The government is trying to attract more private investment to help it pay for costly industrial improvements and infrastructure as part of a KD30.8 billion development plan that aims to boost energy output and modernise transport links.

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