Saudi Aramco has postponed bidding on its five-year engineering services deals for a second time after international contractors requested more time to set up joint ventures with local firms.

Aramco originally asked joint venture groups to prequalify for the deals by 1 November and to prepare bids for submission in the first quarter of 2010. In October, Aramco extended the prequalification deadline until 2 January.

Two senior executives at contractors interested in the deals say Aramco has now extended the prequalification deadline until the last week of February.

An award is due in the second quarter of 2010, with the winners starting their maintenance contracts in July 2010 at the latest.

The engineering services contracts cover feasibility studies, front-end engineering and design work, project management support, and contract management.
Aramco plans to award five separate deals, each for 10 million man-hours of work.

“International contractors would not have been ready by the 2 January deadline,” says one Al-Khobar-based executive bidding for the contracts.

Under Aramco’s spending plan for 2010-14, it will offer all the major contracts on its mega-projects to joint ventures of international and local firms.