Italy’s Saipem and India’s Larsen & Toubro have emerged as frontrunners for the $300m engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a portion of pipeline at the Arabiyah and Hasbah non-associated gas fields in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Aramco is currently evaluating bids, but an oil and gas source in the kingdom believes that a decision will be made shortly.

“There are only two contractors left in the race for this job and if I had to pick a favourite I would go for Saipem because they are already working on the Wasit project,” the source says. “In terms of price, I believe both companies are close to each other.”

Saipem is working on offshore facilities for the $4.6bn Wasit gas development being executed off the Gulf coast and onshore in the Eastern Province of the kingdom.

The scope of works includes the main trunk line that will connect the two offshore fields with the onshore facilities. The winning contractor will lay 10 kilometres of the main trunkline with 36-inch diameter pipes cladded with a special non-corrosive alloy known as Inconel.

MEED reported in early May that Saudi Aramco was facing delays of up to 12 months on the Wasit scheme due to the dense sulphur content of the Arabiyah and Hasbah fields. The project is also said to be over budget by an estimated $600m.