Saudi Aramco is set to ask prequalified engineering consultancies to submit commercial terms early in the third quarter of 2014 for a engineering services contract that focuses on offshore operations.

Firms have been prequalified for the Maintain Potential Programme (MPP) and the large document submitted to Aramco as part of that process now counts as the technical submission. All that remains is for commercial submissions to be submitted.

MEED reported in February that the new MPP contract is going to be much broader in scope and is likely to involve more than one company.

Aramco is considering a new strategy for the MPP that would involve two engineering firms sharing a broader project management consultancy (PMC) contract. The reason behind this is to give the state-owned oil major more flexibility and enable it to have faster response times to problem-solving. 

“It makes sense for two companies to be working on projects simultaneously and this is the reasoning behind the decision,” says an oil and gas source based in Saudi Arabia. “Aramco’s offshore operations are shallow water and require a lot of maintenance, and having two companies means that this can be achieved.”  

Australia’s WorleyParsons is the current holder of the MPP contract and has employed 350 dedicated staff on the scheme since 2003. It was awarded a two-year extension in 2013 that will expire in 2015.

The companies prequalified for the MPP include:

  • Amec (UK)
  • Fluor (US)
  • Foster Wheeler (US)
  • KBR (US)
  • Mustang Engineering (US)
  • SNC Lavalin (Canada)
  • WorleyParsons (Australia)

As well as the PMC, Aramco is considering plans to award several other deals under the MPP umbrella that would focus on several key sectors associated with offshore operations. These will include:

  • Human resources
  • Construction management
  • Fabrication and shipyard facilities
  • Installation of vessels
  • Hook-up and pre-commissioning facilities
  • Material procurement and handling

The MPP has traditionally been one of the largest engineering services contracts to be awarded in the kingdom and the potential new strategy indicates the new scope would be even more expansive and include several more companies.

Aramco has extensive offshore operations on its Gulf coast including Safaniya, the world’s largest offshore oil field, and several large non-associated gas fields. Many of the Gulf fields are mature and extremely likely to require extensive rehabilitations over the next decade to maintain production. Hundreds of new wells need to be drilled every year to maintain operations in shallow-water fields.  

The oil major is also carrying out seismic surveys on its Red Sea coast, although any potential production is still expected to be several years away.