A joint venture of US engineering firm Foster Wheeler and the Ireland’s Kentz Overseas has been awarded a front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract for the Majnoon oil field in the south of Iraq.

According to sources close to the project, the contract covers new facilities for the full field development of the Majnoon oil field, which is being developed by UK-Dutch oil firm Shell.

The deal was agreed in August and signed in late-November, but neither Foster Wheeler nor Kentz would confirm the contract award.

Production started up in October 2013, nine months behind schedule, but has been ramped up to more than 200,000 barrels a day (b/d).

Reaching the first commercial production target of 175,000 b/d enables the firm to begin recovering its costs from the Iraq government. This involved the drilling of new wells and the construction of a greenfield central processing facility (CPF), as well as the revamping of brownfield installations. The full field development will expand the drilling programme and add new oil and gas processing, water injection and transport infrastructure.

Shell has been developing the Majnoon field since 2010, when it was awarded a technical service contract in consortium with Malaysia’s Petronas and state-owned Missan Oil Company. The consortium agreed to boost production from its 2009 level of less than 50,000 b/d to a plateau of 1.8 million b/d. However, the company has spent much of 2013 in talks with the Oil Ministry to slash the plateau production target to around 1 million b/d.