Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are moving ahead with plans to develop the offshore Dorra gas field. It lies in a formerly disputed area along the border between the two countries.

Al-Khafji Joint Operations (KJO), the Saudi/Kuwaiti operator which works in the Divided Zone between the two countries, has appointed two international engineering and design firms to work on a full-field development plan for the reservoir, according to a source working on the project.

The source declines to disclose who the contractors are, but says that the first is extremely experienced in oilfield services while the second has a strong reputation for the design and construction of offshore infrastructure.

The deal, a pre-front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract was awarded early in 2010, and work has already started, says the source.

Once the study is complete, the joint venture partners that make up KJO can make a decision on whether or not to develop the field, and to commission a full Feed study and later appoint an engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

KJO is jointly run by Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Gulf Operations Company. The companies are subsidiaries of their respective state national oil companies, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and Saudi Aramco.

KPC is understood to be keen to push ahead with the development of the field as it needs more gas for domestic use in power generation and the production of petrochemicals.

Most of Kuwait’s gas production currently comes from associated reservoirs, where gas is produced as part of the process of pumping oil. The gas at Dorra is non-associated, meaning it will be produced independently of oil.

Overall, KPC wants to produce more than 1 billion cubic feet a day of non-associated gas by 2015.

The Dorra field was a source of controversy in the past as Iran claimed that it also had rights to the field. It is not clear if Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have come to an agreement over who owns the gas.