The local Al-Suwaidi Trading & Development has emerged as the frontrunner for a $40m contract to upgrade Saudi Aramco’s acid gas piping system at its Shedgum gas processing plant, 135 kilometres southwest of Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

A Dhahran-based executive close to the project says Al-Suwaidi is the low bidder for the deal which includes the installation of four pipelines linking the gas-treating and sulphur recovery units at the facility. Aramco will make an award by early November. Construction is set to be completed by the end of 2010.

“Saudi Aramco is yet to formally award this deal but Al-Suwaidi is seen as the favourite to win the contract due to its low price,” says the source.

Nine companies originally bid for the award including Argentina’s Techint, Italy’s Bonatti, the UK’s Kentz Group and local firms HK al-Sadiq Contracting Company, Al-Badr Contracting Company, Al-Suwaidi Trading & Development, MR al-Khathlan, National Contracting Company and Metal Services for Trading & Contracting Company.

Shedgum is one of five Saudi gas plants and can process up to 1.6 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas.

An Al-Suwaidi affiliate company, MS al-Suwaidi Industrial Services Company, was awarded a $200m contract from Aramco in the first week of October to upgrade 14 bulk storage plants across the kingdom.

Al-Suwaidi will increase the petroleum, diesel and fuel oil storage capacities at the plants which will serve as oil distribution points across the country.