When it comes to the process of tendering contracts, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has long held the reputation of being among the Gulf’s slowest national oil companies. Much to the surprise of engineering firms, in 2009 the state-run behemoth has become the quickest firm on the draw.

Bids were only submitted for almost $10bn-worth of contracts on the integrated gas development project in early July, but Adnoc subsidiary Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco) awarded the deals on 15 July.

On 5 November, another Adnoc subsidiary, Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer), awarded $5.2bn of contracts to two South Korean firms for the main process units on its refinery expansion at Ruwais. Bids had gone in less than two weeks earlier, on 26 October.

The bid round for the three remaining major construction deals on the Ruwais refinery closed on 3 November, and contractors expect to know which of them has won the contracts by the end of November at the latest.

Sources close to Adnoc say that the national oil company is keen to award as many contracts as possible in 2009 to capture cost savings, and this has been the main driver behind the uncommonly speedy deals it has cut.

The bidding process for the $10bn-plus Shah gas scheme to produce sulphur rich natural gas from the southern field has not run smoothly, with a key component – the world’s largest sulphur pipeline – still under scrutiny. But, with final bidding on several of the major contracts on the project set for December, Adnoc could yet get the bulk of the deals that it has been planning for the better part of a decade concluded by the end of this year.

If it does, it will cement its new-found reputation as one of the region’s most agile national oil companies.