UAE-based National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) is the frontrunner to win two $1bn contracts to build onshore oil production facilities in Abu Dhabi, according to executives at firms that bid for the work.

Eight contractors sent bids for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deals to Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Operations (Adco) on 22 November. Adco opened the bids on 25 November, say sources close to the company.

Adco has yet to disclose the value of the bids, but executives at rival firms say that NPCC bid significantly less than its closest competitors.

The deals cover infrastructure upgrades and production increases at the state-owned energy company’s Bab and Qusawirah oil fields. They are part of Adco’s 1.8 million project to increase the emirate’s onshore oil capacity by 400,000 b/d to 1.8 million b/d by 2015.

The bidders for the contract to build facilities at Bab were JGC Corporation of Japan; NPCC; India’s Larsen & Toubro; Spain’s TR; Italy’s Saipem; France’s Technip; South Korean firms SK Engineering & Construction and GS Engineering & Construction; and the UK’s Petrofac.

The winning contractor will build the infrastructure to support 53 wells Adco is drilling at the Thammam G and Habshan 2 reservoirs, in the Bab field.

The work includes linking the wells to flowlines and pipelines, and building water-handling systems and associated utilities.

Of the companies that bid for the Bab deal, only Petrofac failed to bid for the second contract, to build facilities at the Qusawirah field.

The winner of the Qusawirah contract will build facilities to handle output from the 44 wells Adco is drilling. This includes building facilities to remove gas from the oil, and reinjecting the gas into the reservoir.

Contractors say they expect Adco to announce the winners on both contracts before the end of 2009.