Two of the packages released are for the construction of the straddle plant, which at an estimated $1,100 million is the largest element in the programme. The plant will have capacity to treat about 3,800 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas and will mainly handle natural gas liquids (NGL) from the Haradh and Hawiyah gas plants. Additional input is expected to come from the government’s upstream gas projects recently awarded in the Rub al-Khali zone, an area that was originally designated to be developed under the gas initiative (MEED 30:1:04).

Among companies understood to have been approached for the straddle plant packages are the US’ Bechtel, Chiyoda Corporationand JGC Corporation, both of Japan, and Paris-based Technip.

Expressions of interest have also been invited from EPC contractors for a third package, the estimated $200 million expansion of the Hawiyah gas plant. The project calls for the addition of 800 million cf/d of new capacity to the existing 1,600 million cf/d. The fourth package is for the $210 million expansion of the 600,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Juaymah fractionation plant. The project calls for the addition of a fourth 270,000-b/d train.

Under Aramco’s schedule, invitations to bid (ITBs) for the four packages are due to be sent out in May, with the closing date set for August. Contract awards are scheduled for November, while project completion is set for April 2007.

Aramco is planning four pipeline packages under the programme. The first package will involve the construction of four pipelines linking the straddle plant with the existing pipeline connecting the Haradh and Uthmaniya gas plants. Two pipelines – a 48-inch-diameter, 27-kilometre line and a 56-inch-diameter, 1-kilometre line – will deliver feedstock to the straddle plant. Another two lines of similar size will export the plant’s output.

A second package will call for the construction of two pipelines running 27 kilometres from the straddle plant to Uthmaniya gas plant and a further 57 kilometres to Shedgum gas plant. The lines will have diameters of 20 inches and 28 inches respectively. The local Worley Arabia, a 50:50 joint venture between Australia’s Worleyand the local Petrocon Arabia, is the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contractor on the two packages.

A third pipeline package calls for the installation of a 30-inch-diameter, 170-kilometre line, transporting ethane from the Juaymah fractionation plant to the Shedgum gas plant. On a fourth package, Aramco plans to install a 30-inch-diameter, 58-kilometre ethane pipeline between Juaymah and Jubail. Bechtel is carrying out the FEED for both packages.

The last pipeline package calls for the expansion of the NGL pipeline connecting Shedgum gas plant with Yanbu in the west. The project will involve the construction of several pumping stations.