At least four contractors have submitted technical and commercial bids for a project to develop offshore security towers to protect Qatar’s oil and gas fields.

The bids are for a package that includes a feasibility study and front end engineering and design (feed) work for eight offshore sensor towers used for surveillance.

Security tower locations
Field name Location
Al-Rayyan North Field
Al-Shaheen North Field
Qatar Gas North Field
North Field North Field
Al-Khaleej Halul Island area
Bul Hanine Halul Island area
Idd el-Shargi Halul Island area
Maydan Mahazam Halul Island area
Source: MEED

The bidders list comprises only a limited amount of companies, as the scope of the contract limits the range of potential contractors, and bidders are left with a high degree of risk. The project has been tendered by state-owned Qatar Petroleum, but the Defence Ministry is the ultimate client.

The bidding companies include the US’ FosterWheeler, Australia’s WorleyParsons, Italy’s Saipem and France’s Technip. “There is quite a small list of bidders, partially because of the sensitivity of the project, but mainly because of the scope, they want companies that are up to the task,” said a source close to the deal.

Contractors are concerned about the risk they have to shoulder as part of the deal.

“Its more a survey contract than a feed contract,” says a source at a bidding company. “We take the responsibility, and survey work is fraught with all kinds of risk. A typical QP contract will put all the risk on the contractors.”

Commercial and technical bids were submitted separately, but on the same day. Sources believe the contract will be awarded within this quarter, with the towers to be completed by 2013.

“We were told that they will wrap up by May. I believe they should it be able to do it in the second quarter,” says a source close to the deal.

Qatar Petroleum (QP) issued the tender for the project, known as the Qatar Defence project, in August last year (MEED 19:08:2012), having restarted the project after shelving it in 2005. While QP is awarding the contract, the Ministry of Defence is the ultimate client.

“The project has to primarily to do with border surveillance, then with oil and gas,” said a source at a bidding company.

The wide scope of the package may be because of QP’s initial inclination to bypass a feed stage and move straight from the feasibility study to construction, before it was convinced by contractors that a feed was necessary.

The feasibility study and feed contractor will determine the exact location of the sensor platforms and whether they will interfere with helicopter path zones and existing communication systems. It will also assess the provision of the sensors’ power and utility requirements, since the scheme includes living quarters for 120 personnel.

Four of the towers will cover the area to the northeast of Qatar, which includes the North Field, Al-Shaheen and the Al-Rayyan oil and gas fields.

The other four towers will cover fields around Halul Island to the east of Qatar including Idd el-Shargi, Bul Hanine, Maydan Mahzam and Al-Khaleej.

The sensor tower platforms will contain an array of surveillance systems, including radar, direction finders, electro-optical cameras, automatic identifier systems, weather stations, maritime radio transmitters and wide-area network antennas.

Each tower will require a set of umbilical power cables from a nearby source and fibre-optic cables connecting them to the North field and East field networks.  

One of the towers, the Forward Mounted Base (FMB) will have a helicopter deck, accommodation, operational and communication rooms, offices and systems control rooms.