2TDK, the state-owned company managing the project, revealed Friday it had received 15 bids for the section from the inland hub Divača to Črni Kal and 14 bids for the section from Črni Kal to Koper.
There are five Slovenian firms among the bidders. Most notably, Kolektor, the country's no. 1 builder, submitted bids for both sections, both in conjunction with Turkish bidders Yapi Merkezi and Ozlatin Insaat.
Cengiz, the Turkish builder which recently won the bidding to build the second tube of the Karavanke tunnel, has submitted offers for both sections as well, as have two other Turkish firms, Ic Ictas Insaat and Yda Insaat Sanay.
Turnout from China is strong as well, with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, China Communications Construction Company, Power Construction Corporation of China, China Railway No. 9 Group and China Gezhouba Group Company in the bidding.
Other major bidders include Strabag and Swietelsky Tunnelbau from Austria, Impresa Pizzarotti from Italy, with companies from Spain, Czechia and Germany participating as part of multi-member consortia.
Dušan Zorko, the director of 2TDK, said the response was very satisfactory. The next step in the multi-phase process will be to select the qualified bidders within 90 days, whereupon the bidders in the second round will be asked to price their offers.
Interest in the project is not surprising since this is the biggest publicly-financed construction project currently under way in Slovenia. It is valued at well over a billion euro, with some preliminary works already under way.
But judging from the previous major bid, for the Karavanke tunnel, the selection may drag on for months if not longer as disqualified bidders use all legal avenues to remain in the game.
The first round of bidding for Karavanke started in March 2018 and it took until December 2019 before Cengiz won the contract.