The US’ Foster Wheeler has started a new joint venture oil and gas engineering company with a local firm in Saudi Arabia.

The local partner is A Al-Saihati A Fattani & O Al-Othman Consulting Engineering Company (Sofcon), Foster Wheeler said in a 2 February statement.

The company will be based in Al-Khobar and will focus on engineering and project management for onshore and offshore oil and gas, refining and petrochemicals construction work in the kingdom.

Overseas contractors have come under pressure to establish partnerships with local firms because national oil company Saudi Aramco has said it will only award major contracts to joint ventures of international companies and local firms.

Aramco made the pledge in its latest spending plan for 2010 to 2014. The state energy giant told contractors in September 2009 that it also wanted the joint ventures to list on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tawadul) by 2015 (MEED 30:9:2009).