Saudi Aramco and petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) have awarded a contract to KBR to provide project management and front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the $20bn fully-integrated crude oil-to-chemicals (COTC) complex in Saudi Arabia.

The contract award follows the signing of a MoU between Saudi Aramco and SABIC in November 2017 to further the COTC project development.

Under the contract, KBR will be responsible for the finalization of the project scope, selection of technology providers and update on project economics in addition to conducting front-end engineering and design.

Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said: “The award of this second project management contract to KBR not only strengthens the project with additional world-class experience, but is yet another milestone in the Kingdom’s continuous drive to redirect and optimize its abundant natural resources and maximize its chemicals yield.

“With the addition of KBR to the project, Saudi Aramco and SABIC are confident that the right parties are now in place to see the project through its initial phases and the inclusion of a high proportion of local content.”

Scheduled to be by 2025, the COTC complex will be equipped to process 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil and produce approximately nine million tons of chemicals and base oils annually.

SABIC vice-chairman and CEO Yousef Al-Benyan said: “This contract award to KBR is a major advance by the two leading industrial companies in Saudi Arabia – SABIC and Saudi Aramco – towards establishing a large petrochemical facility in support of Saudi Arabia’s vision of creating job opportunities, initiating new industrial technologies, and diversifying the product portfolio.”

Saudi Aramco earlier said that the COTC complex would help expand its downstream portfolio, secure new commercial opportunities and reduce focus on the transportation sector.

The two companies plan equally share the investment costs in the project, which is expected to help reduce the country’s reliance on crude.