Saudi Aramco’s Maintain Potential Programme (MPP) is one of the largest engineering services contracts in the region and has been executed by Australia’s WorleyParsons since 2003. The MPP involves carrying out project management and engineering services for Aramco’s offshore oil operations.

With WorleyParsons’ deal due to end in 2015, companies are now prequalifying for a new contract set to be tendered this year. The exact scope will not be known until the tender is floated, but it is expected to be far more expansive than the current deal. At least two engineering consultancies should be involved and the scope could also include several other firms offering support services including human resources and construction management.

This one-stop shop strategy is a creative way of increasing the participation of local companies in Aramco’s projects. Having a number of smaller companies working under the umbrella of one or two large engineering consultancies is likely to increase Saudisation levels in the Eastern Province’s private sector. From a purely operational standpoint, having several firms working towards the same goals will give the oil major more flexibility than a single vendor.

The next 12 months is looking increasingly like another year of solid consolidation for Aramco. There are a few process plants being planned, but there are also several large schemes aimed at improving the supply chain. These include the MPP, the planned shipyard at Ras al-Khair and an energy manufacturing hub planned for Dammam.

These schemes may not grab the headlines, but they are laying solid foundations for a future where Aramco could become a self-sufficient entity.