Nesma plans to start work on the SR 209 million ($57 million) contract by the end of August. The 24-month contract involves construction of two new laboratories and associated facilities alongside the existing research centre, and the supply and installation of R&D equipment. Over 350 engineering scientists will be employed in the facility when both parts of the complex are operational.

Nesma’s closest competitor was Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC)at SR 212 million ($56.5 million). Other bidders included Saudi Oger, Athens-based Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas)and the lcoal/Lebanese Almabani General Contractors Company.

Located on a 12,000-square-metre site at Aramco’s headquarters, the existing R&D centre covers most areas of the company’s operations, focusing on upstream recovery technology, catalyst and refining technologies, materials science – particularly in the fields of corrosion and alloys research – and analytical research. Construction of the centre provided the space necessary to set up a physical simulation of the Ghawar field, which requires dedicated lab space and x-ray shielding not previously available to Aramco.