Zakum Development Company (Zadco) is preparing to tender the front-end engineering design (feed) contract for a major processing expansion project in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE.

The operator plans to add a fifth and sixth oil processing trains and an additional gas treatment plant (GTP) on Zirku Island, located 160 kilometres off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

The Zirku Facilities Capacity Enhancement Project is designed to increase capacity to produce UZ Blend crude to 1 million barrels a day (b/d) from an existing 580,000 b/d. The facilities process crude from the Upper Zakum and Umm al-Dalkh fields, which is transported to Zirku Island through a pipeline.

Zadco expects to award the feed contract in the second quarter of 2013, with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) award set for the second quarter of 2015. Project completion has been scheduled for mid-2017.

Earlier this year, the company asked interested contractors to submit an expression of interest in bidding for the feed contract, setting a deadline of 10 July.

In addition to the engineering design and cost estimates for the fifth and sixth trains and GTP, the feed contractor will be required to cover other activities, including design safety reviews, identifications of tie-ins with the existing plant and planning for the EPC phase.

Zadco is a joint venture of state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), US oil major ExxonMobil and Japan Oil Development Company.

The company is undergoing a major development of its Upper Zakum production facilities and plans to increase oil production at its Upper Zakum field to 750,000 b/d from 500,000 b/d.

The EPC contracts are divided into separate packages, with a $800m deal awarded last month to the consortium of French contractor Technip and Abu Dhabi-based National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC).