• Lowest commercial proposal submitted was about $297m
  • Dodsal submits second-lowest bid
  • Changes in specifications could be causing delay in award

China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation (CPECC) has emerged as the frontrunner for a contract to construct a full-field development at the onshore Mender field in Abu Dhabi, according to sources familiar with the project.

The Chinese group submitted the lowest bid of about $297m for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract tendered by asset operator Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (Adco).

UAE-based Dodsal was the second-lowest bidder for the contract, with at least three other companies also submitting commercial EPC proposals.

The project will start production at the Mender field for the first time, with a capacity of about 20,000 barrels a day (b/d). The field is located 290 kilometres south of Abu Dhabi city and 125km south of the Asab field close to the emirate’s border with Saudi Arabia and Oman.

One source said that there has been a delay in awarding the EPC contract for Mender and Adco could be considering changes to the scope of the project.

Changes to the specification could lead to Adco asking the bidding companies to submit new prices. Adco was not available to comment on the project.

CPECC is an arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

The Mender development is part of Adco’s programme to add 143,000 b/d of new capacity at three fields, including the active Sahil and Qusahwira fields.

MEED revealed in May that US-based CH2M Hill won the project management consultancy (PMC) contract to oversee the development of the three fields.

Adco is also preparing to award the EPC contract on the phase 2 development of the Sahil field, but the Qusahwira project was held back for a later tender.

The front-end engineering and design (feed) contract for the Qusahwira field phase 2 section of the megaproject was awarded to SNC Lavalin.

Adco has now asked companies to submit technical EPC bids for phase 2 of the Qusahwira field development in June 2015, according to one source.

Adco has completed, or is in the process of commissioning, two major onshore development programmes it started constructing in 2009. The project, dubbed the ‘1.8 million b/d programme’, was undertaken to develop the Qusahwira, Bida al-Qemzan and Bab fields while the Shah-Asab-Sahil (SAS) project is increasing output from the three named fields.

Abu Dhabi is currently assessing company proposals to form a new Adco joint venture to manage the emirate’s onshore fields. So far, majority shareholder Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has only awarded a 10 per cent stake to France’s Total.

Adnoc is thought to be looking for international oil companies to represent 40 per cent of the new joint venture, which is responsible for the majority of Abu Dhabi’ s oil production.

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