Juan Lladó, CEO of Spanish engineering firm Técnicas Reunidas (TR) didn’t pull any punches in comments on his firm’s Q2 earnings call on 30 July.

“Jazan has been our nightmare and has been a nightmare for the last 8 years. It’s been our nightmare and our competitors’ nightmare,” he said in reference to the 400,000 b/d refinery project in Saudi Arabia’s remote southwest.

Though mechanical completion on both the 400,000 b/d refinery and $11.5bn 4GW integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant and associated air separation unit (ASU) was apparently achieved last year, neither element has yet to start up. US firm Air Products, the key power plant contractor indicated earlier last month that it was not expecting start-up before 2021 (MEES, 31 July)

EPC contracts for the 400,000 b/d refinery were split among Técnicas Reunidas, the UK’s Petrofac, Korea’s Hyundai, Hanwha and SK Engineering and Construction, Japan’s JGC and Hitachi and the Saudi Al-Ali Al-Ajmi Group. Awards were made way back in 2012 with 2016 start-up the then target (MEES, 26 October 2012).

“[If] we had to do it again. We would have done it differently with contractors, suppliers, subcontractors. I think everybody has made a lot of mistakes in this job. I never want to blame the customer. We’re their contractor, we took the job, and it has been a disaster for our margins, for accounts, but it’s done,” Mr Lladó says. With only “minor details… that we have to finish... already Aramco is operating the plant,” he adds.


“Most importantly, we have kept the customer. We have kept one of the most important customers in the world,” he says with reference to Aramco.

To back up this assertion, TR the same day announced an $80mn-plus 34-month lump sum turn-key contract for a Sour Water Stripper unit at Aramco’s 550,000 b/d Ras Tanura Refinery. “The scope of the contract includes engineering, procurement and supply, construction and assistance to the start-up of the plant” as well as tie-in to the existing facilities, the Spanish firm says. The unit “is an environmental unit, aimed at reducing the amounts of hydrogen sulphide and ammonia by washing them with steam. The final objective is to improve the quality of the water, which can be reused as stripped water in the washing of other units from a circular economy perspective,” TR adds.

“Although, [it’s] a small job with Aramco, it’s a sign that Aramco continues working with TR in the Ras Tanura Refinery. They wanted to have a new job. And through this [Covid-19] mess, because it’s been a mess, we have… still [been] assigned an important job.” “It’s not going to solve the P&L of TR in 2021, but I think it allows me to give a very positive message to the market. And you [will] see some [more] awards in the future, 4, 5, 6 months,” Mr Llado predicts.


TR adds that the latest $80mn Ras Tanura award is a “new and independent contract” from the $1.5-1.8bn clean fuels upgrade contract that the firm was awarded at Ras Tanura refinery at the end of 2016 (MEES, 13 January 2017). Work on this is “currently very close to its satisfactory completion” following a refinery turnaround earlier this year to enable the tie in of the new units (MEES, 28 February).

With the latest award “TR consolidates its position in the Saudi market and shows how the trust received from one of its most important clients, Saudi Aramco, is reinforced day by day.”


Mr Llado adds that, though awards may have slumped with Covid-19 his firm is “modestly optimistic. And why so? … Because [TR’s project backlog is with] outstanding customers.”

“These are the customers that I like to be with in a crisis. I like to be with Aramco. And I’m with Aramco…I would love to be, and I am with KPC, which is KIPIC, which is Kuwait. With Kuwait oil company, the main oil company with whom we’re doing two big, huge jobs.”