Three companies have submitted commercial proposals for an estimated $800m scheme to build early production facilities (EPF) for Abu Dhabi’s Zakum Development Company (Zadco).

Italy’s Saipem, UAE-based McDermott and France’s Technip with the local National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) all submitted bids on 4 March, more than a year after the scheme was first tendered, sources close to the project tell MEED.

Technical proposals were submitted by the three firms and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries in May 2011. The Korean firm subsequently withdrew from the running.

However, the sources say they expect to see the contract signed before May, with a letter of intent issued as soon early as April.

The scheme’s delay has been largely put down to slow progress on the construction of four artificial islands that will house drilling platforms and production facilities. These are now expected to be completed in April.

Zadco plans to boost output at the offshore Upper Zakum reservoir to 750,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the current 500,000 b/d by adding offshore production facilities. The first phase of facilities will increase output by 100,000 b/d.

Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors are also preparing to bid for a second set of facilities at the field, known as EPC-2, which will add another 150,000 b/d. EPC-2 also includes some of the scope originally intended for the first phase.

Technical proposals are due at the end of March.

Zadco is a joint venture of state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), US oil major ExxonMobil and Japan Oil Development Company.