For much of the first half of 2010, conversation among Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas contracting community has centred on one thing: the $10bn Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) Shah gas scheme.

The development has seen as many twists, from the long, drawn-out process of swapping a sulphur pipeline for a railway to the shock exit of the US’ ConocoPhillips as a partner in the scheme in late April.

The noise around the project will soon die down as contracts are awarded and engineering firms settle in to the real work of developing one of the region’s biggest sour gas fields.

The question for contractors is: what comes next? For many firms, Abu Dhabi has single-handedly supported the regional, if not the global, oil and gas engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) market over the past two years, awarding close to $40bn of deals since March 2009 including Shah.

There are still opportunities in the emirate, but the winners will be firms with specialist experience in offshore and petrochemicals construction. Zakum Development Company (Zadco) has finished prequalifying companies to bid on the first construction packages on its estimated $15bn project to boost production at the Upper Zakum field. Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company is moving on a series of offshore oil developments.

Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company (Chemaweyaat), meanwhile, will tender design contracts for its $10bn Tacaamol venture in the second quarter of the year.

All of these projects require technical and technological expertise that the emirate’s projects to date have not needed. The contracting market will continue to bear fruit, but only for those with the necessary know-how.