All seven of the contractors bidding for Saudi Aramco’s general engineering services plus (GES plus) contract could be invited to sign framework agreements with the world’s largest national oil company.

The GES plus contract is a move by Aramco to trim down the number of contractors it uses for its front-end engineering and design work. The oil giant is hoping that local talent has a better chance of being involved in the more technical work if it has a close relationship with a smaller group of companies.  

The contractors involved have all spent a considerable amount of money taking part in the bid process and it is obvious that all of them have the technical expertise to do the job. For Aramco to decline to work with two contractors would look a little mean spirited after so much effort has been put in.

Where the GES plus contract leaves everyone else is not so clear. Some high-profile names are missing from the list, including majors such as Fluor and CBI Lummus from the US, Japan’s JGC Corporation and Italy’s Saipem.

South Korean, Indian and Chinese engineering contractors who are hoping to one day make the step up and offer design consultancy work must also be casting an envious glance at the list.

However, from Aramco’s perspective the move makes sense. The oil major has a responsibility to Saudi Arabia and if the kingdom is going to progress then, it needs more local people designing oil and gas infrastructure projects.

Aramco knows it needs to encourage young Saudis to nurture their technical abilities just as much as it needs to keep the oil flowing out of the ground.