BIDDING for the last packages on the $2,500 million scheme to develop the giant Shayba oilfield in the south-east of the kingdom was due to close in mid-July. Saudi Araraco has brought forward completion of the scheme by a full year.

The mid-1998 completion deadline adds yet another challenge for contractors, who already face some of the harshest terrain and climate in the kingdom. The Shayba field is some 400 kiometres from the nearest paved road, and more than 600 kilometres from the nearest gathering centre, at Abqaiq. Contractors are being asked to build facilities capable of processing 500,000 barrels a day.

Upstream, these include three satellite gas oil separation plants, production traps, dehydration and desalting trains, gas gathering and compression facilities, and crude pumps. A 635-kilometre, 46-inch pipeline will run to Abqaiq. Downstream, the facilities comprise three 40,000-barrel Arab extra-light spheroids, an Arab light stabiliser, and gas compression facilities with a capacity of 75 million cubic feet a day. The main packages of the scheme offer work worth up to $1,700 million.

Work has also begun on the kingdom’s first multi-products pipeline. Italy’s Saipem has the $140 million contract to build a 20-inch multi-products pipeline running 380 kilometres between Dhahran and Riyadh.

The contract also includes a new bulk handling plant at Riyadh north and a four kilometre pipeline running from the bulk plant to King Khaled international airport.

Bidding is also underway for a 360-kilometre pipeline linking Riyadh with the existing Qassim bulk-handling plant. The pipelines will allow the kingdom to move away from a truck-based distribution system for refined products.