The state gas operator has held talks with several international engineering firms about the scheme and plans to tender a consultancy contract in December.

“Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas is sulphur-heavy and, with the new production it plans to bring on stream over the next 10 years, it will have to process and export a lot more of it,” says the business development manager of one engineering firm that Gasco has approached over the deal.

The study will forecast global demand for the chemical and recommend improvements to Abu Dhabi’s export infrastructure.

The sulphur content of  the emirate’s oil is 1-2 per cent, and its gas 0.5-1.5 per cent.

State energy firm Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), parent company of Gasco, plans to increase its oil production capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2019 from its current capacity of 2.7 million b/d.

Two of Gasco’s ongoing initiatives – the Integrated Gas Development and the Shah Gas Development – will add a total of 2 billion cubic feet a day of gas production by 2015.

Adnoc estimates it will produce 7.1 million tonnes a year of sulphur by 2013, up from the 1.7 million tonnes it produced in 2008.

Among its other uses, sulphur is used in the production of rubber and also has several pharmaceutical applications.