State-owned energy firm Saudi Aramco has awarded two contracts worth a total of $400m to Arabian Geophysical & Surveying Company (Argas) to help it find fresh oil and gas reserves in Gulf waters.

One source close to the deal tells MEED the contracts cover gathering marine seismic data from both the northern and southern waters of the Gulf.

One contract, Seismo 65, will run for two and a half years, while the other, Seismo 66, will take two years to complete.

To provide more accurate information, Argas will use a technique called ocean-bottom cable surveying, where the seismic cable is laid on the sea floor rather than towed near the surface.

Aramco made the awards in late November, but details have only just come to light.

Argas is a 51:49 joint venture of the local Industrialisation & Energy Services Company (Taqa) and France’s CGG Veritas. The kingdom’s Oil Ministry launched Taqa in 2003 to provide support services to the oil and gas sector.

The state-owned Public Investment Fund, an arm of the Finance Ministry, owns a 45 per cent stake in Taqa.

In October, Aramco awarded three contracts worth a total of $300m to the local/Chinese BGP Arabia to carry out seismic surveys. Under one deal, BGP Arabia will gather 2D seismic data in the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) for four years.

Another deal covers a two-year 3D seismic survey at the Manifa oil field in the Eastern Province, which has been partly developed.

A third contract covers a 15-month seismic survey in the Red Sea, in waters up to 1,700 metres deep