MEED’s annual engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor survey for the hydrocarbons sector on first glance has thrown up few surprises. The majority of the top 20 contractors in the Middle East and North Africa (excluding Iran and Turkey) in the 12 months to June 2016 are European and South Korean companies that have been successful in the region’s oil, gas and petrochemicals sector for years.

However, the appearance of Al-Khobar-based Saudi KAD at third in the list and recent deals won by several other domestic contractors suggest a shift may be happening in some countries in the region.

Saudi KAD was awarded five EPC contracts totalling $2.25bn by Saudi Aramco in the 12 months to June. The company won all three pipeline packages on the Master Gas System Expansion (MGSE) and package four on the Fadhili gas plant. Saudi KAD also won an estimated $400m deal on Aramco’s offshore maintain potential programme.

In May, Saudi group Nesma & Partners won two contracts thought to be worth $200m combined on Aramco’s Ras Tanura clean fuels project. Nesma is now expected to win the much larger package 2 on the project, building the offsites and utilities.

Nesma and Saudi KAD are likely to be among the most successful contractors by value in the kingdom this year. Saudi KAD said in its MGSE announcement that it has become the country’s first fully-integrated Saudi EPC contractor and that the award demonstrated the government’s commitment to supporting and growing national contractors.

Oman is another country in the region with ambitious targets for local suppliers of services and goods used in oil and gas projects.

Earlier this month, the country’s state oil company Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) awarded three EPC contracts worth a combined $330m to local companies to build oil and gas facilities in Oman.

The contractors in question – Najed al-Ahliya, Sarooj Construction Company and Rukun al-Yaqeen (RAY) – do not typically win $100m-plus contracts in Oman’s oil and gas sector. Sarooj said the deal was its first direct EPC contract from PDO, having previously only worked as a sub-contractor.

There will still be plenty of opportunities for international contractors to pick up work in these markets, especially on larger, technically complex projects, but domestic companies are likely to increasingly benefit from government initiatives as localisation policies are pushed through.