Abu Dhabi plans to invest over $1bn on three oil fields to expand its onshore crude production by 143,000 barrels a day (b/d), according to sources close to the project, as part of the emirate’s plans to boost oil production to 3.5 million b/d by 2018.

Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) will carry out full field developments on the Sahil and Qusahwira fields and start production at the Mender field for the first time.

The megaproject, officially called Sahil phase 2 development project, Asab units 6&7, Mender FFDP & QW phase 2 development projects, will increase the emirate’s onshore crude capacity by about 8 per cent, from the 1.8 million b/d being commissioned in the current round of developments.

Australia-based Worley Parsons was awarded the pre front-end engineering and design (pre-feed) contract for the scheme, while Adco is currently assessing bids for the project management consultant (PMC) deal.

Companies submitting bids for the PMC contract were British groups Amec and Mott MacDonald, US-based CH2M Hill, Canada’s SNC Lavalin and the Netherlands-based Tebodin. The PMC is expected to be awarded in the next two months.

Adco is expected to tender several engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages in 2014 with a total value of more than $1bn.

Adco has completed, or is in the process of commissioning, two major onshore development programmes it started constructing in 2009. The 1.8 million b/d programme was undertaken to develop the Qusawirah, Bida al-Qemzan and Bab fields while the Shah-Asab-Sahil (SAS) project is increasing output from the three named fields.

The new project will add 100,000 b/d of new crude capacity at the Sahil field – located 120 kilometres south of Abu Dhabi city – more than doubling the field’s existing capacity.

In addition, a second phase of development at the Qusahwira field will add 23,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of new capacity to 30,000 b/d from the first phase undergoing completion.

Abu Dhabi will also start producing crude from the Mender field for the first time, with a capacity of 20,000 b/d. Qusahwira and Mender are located between 260km and 290km south of Abu Dhabi city near the borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The facilities will include new gas injection compressors, new main oil line (MOL) booster pumps, water-disposal pumps new water-alternating gas (WAG) wells, flow lines, production separators and flow metres.  

“They are trying to enhance the recovery of oil… they will probably use a combination of water injection and gas injection,” says a source familiar with the project.

If Abu Dhabi pushes through with the EPC tenders next year, the project’s completion should be targeted for 2018 or 2019.

Abu Dhabi’s most recent target is to reach a capacity of 3.5 million b/d by 2018, up from a capacity of 2.7 million b/d in mid-2010 when the target was set.

Most of the emirate’s capacity additions between now and the end of the decade will come from offshore field developments at Upper Zakum, Nasr, Satah al-Razboot (Sarb) and Umm al-Lulu.

The only other major onshore oil project at the early stages is the North East Bab phase three development, for which Adco tendered the first package in June.

The Sahil-Qusahwira-Mender and North East Bab projects will fall into the hands of new owners in 2014, when Abu Dhabi forms a new joint venture to run its onshore fields.

Adco, a joint venture between state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), the UK’s BP, the US’ ExxonMobil, UK/Dutch Shell Group, France’s Total and Portugal’s Partex, is set to expire in early January with up to 10 international firms vying to form a new partnership with Adnoc.