Vietnam's second refinery on track, investor says

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State-owned oil and gas group PetroVietnam has confirmed that the construction of the country's second oil refinery will proceed as planned despite the announcement from a Japanese investor that the project would be delayed.

The Nghi Son project will not be affected by Idemitsu Kosan Co.'s investment plan, news website VnExpress reported Friday, citing a statement made by PetroVietnam Chief Executive Officer Do Van Hau.

"The Japanese partner is not ending or withdrawing its investment and there is only a slight delay in negotiations ," he said.

Investors in the plant are expected to sign an engineering and construction contract by the end of the year, which Hau said would be a "major step" that must be passed before the project can be built.

PetroVietnam, Kuwait Petroleum International, Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co and Mitsui Chemicals are the four investors behind the proposed US$7 billion refinery.

Construction was originally scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2011 but has been delayed since, with some reports saying it was due to difficulties with land clearance and preparation procedures.

Idemitsu Kosan Co, Japan's third largest refiner, was quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday that it was delaying a final investment decision on the project and does not expect to start operations until 2016, instead of the earlier target date of 2014.

The plant is designed to process 200,000 barrels of crude oil from Kuwait per day.

Vietnam is also planning to expand the Dung Quat plant in the central region, which is now its sole refinery.

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