The value of the awards made for oil and gas projects in the GCC has increased by more than $2bn to $48bn for the year between April 2010 and March 2011.

The results from a study by Middle East projects tracker MEED Projects also states that Italy’s Saipem was the top engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, with GCC awards totalling $7.3bn in the same period. South Korea’s Samsung Engineering came second with $6.3bn worth of awards.

“Saipem have proved that you can take on the Koreans and win,” says a senior executive from a European engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. “But I think that to do so you must remain extremely focused in your core area.”

The South Koreans dominated the list with six out of the top 10 companies coming from the country and awards totalling $22bn were won by EPC contractors from the East Asian state.

Saudi Arabia topped the country list with investments totalling $20bn were made in 2011-12.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco invested the most capital and both wholly owned and joint venture project awards totalled more than $14bn.  The majority of Aramco’s investments were made in gas processing facilities, including the Shaybah natural gas liquids (NGL) and the Wasit gas development project.

The UAE, led by Abu Dhabi, finished second in the country list with investments totalling $13bn.