Hail was not expected to be developed this year. However, one executive close to Gasco says high-level exploratory talks over the potential of the Hail field are taking place in the firm’s planning department. “This is early work but no international contractors are being canvassed, which suggests the initial engineering and design may be done in-house,” says the executive.

Over the past 12 months, Gasco has been focusing on the onshore Shah field, with the US’ Conoco-Phillips signing the long-awaited project deal to develop the field’s sour gas reserves earlier in 2008.

The US’ Fluor Corporation has historically carried out the bulk of front-end engineering and design contracts in Abu Dhabi’s gas sector (MEED 13:2:08).

Although the Hail field falls within the concession of Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco), development of the project is now expected to come under the remit of Gasco.

Production of up to 500 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of sour gas has conservatively been forecast from the field as part of an expected initial outlay of $1bn.

Last year, Adco launched the field development by inviting contractors to submit expressions of interest for the marine works package (MEED 14:9:07).

The project involves the dredging of a five-kilometre access channel and the reclamation of three artificial islands.