US-based McDermott International says it has opened a new office in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia to enhance its engineering capacity within the kingdom and beyond.

The new facility at Al-Khobar enables the engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) firm, to add another 300 staff to its existing workforce in the kingdom, according to a company statement.

“The opening of our new office further solidifies our leadership in the area and our commitment to Saudi Arabia,” Linh Austin, McDermott’s vice-president for the Middle East and Caspian region, said in the statement, adding that it increases support to the customers, particularly in brownfield projects.

The move is part of several initiatives McDermott is carrying out in the Saudi market to support Saudi Aramco’s In Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme, a basic pillar of which is to create jobs for qualified Saudi nationals.

Aramco has already started introducing a clause into contracts with international oil services companies and suppliers in the country, giving them targets to hire Saudi nationals, Abdulaziz al-Abdulkarim, vice-president of procurement and supply chain management at the state-owned firm, said in late September.

The oil major has already started working with its international partners such as the US’ GE and Schlumberger to measure the baseline of implementation of the IKTVA programme. “Based on that baseline, they have to work [to achieve the targets]. They are going to give us their plans [to hire Saudi nationals] and then we will work with them,’’ Al-Abdulkarim said at the time, without elaborating if international firms were given any particular targets as to how many Saudi nationals they should hire.

McDermott said the opening of its new office follows the recent Dammam yard inauguration and recruitment drive in Al-Khobar, where the firm interviewed and assessed more than 600 Saudi craftsmen to support the IKTVA objectives.

McDermott, which has a decades-long operational history in Saudi Arabia, is among five regional and international firms that have secured a Long Term Agreement (LTA) with Aramco.

The LTA deal was initially signed with four international EPC contractors including the US’ Dynamic Industries, India’s Larsen & Toubro, Singapore’s Emas and Italy’s Saipem. UAE-based National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) became the fifth LTA contractor on 13 October.

The LTA gives the contractors exclusive rights to bid for several oil and gas producing platforms, tie-in platforms, pipelines, power cables and related facilities under Aramco’s masterplan for its offshore fields.

Aramco plans to spend $334bn over the next decade in the kingdom to improve its oil and gas infrastructure.