UK-based Petrofac has emerged as the frontrunner for the main contract on a major gas processing project in Abu Dhabi, according to sources close to the bidding process.

The group submitted the lowest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bid on phase 2 of the Bab compression facilities expansion project, owned by Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco).

Other companies vying for the contract include Spain’s Intecsa Industrial and South Korean groups Samsung Engineering and SK Engineering & Construction (SK E&C), which also submitted commercial bids on the EPC contract in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The estimated $500m project includes a new compressor station and new gas-gathering system at the Bab field, 150 kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi city. The work is part of the second-phase expansion of the Bab field, which will increase its capacity to 2.5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) from 1.8 billion cf/d.

The scope of the project includes a new compressor station comprising three compressors, a new gas-gathering system to accommodate 32 wells and associated facilities.

The compressors will maintain the pressure in the pipeline connecting Adco’s Bab gas-gathering operations to the Habshan gas processing and distribution hub.

US-based engineering group CH2M Hill recently won the project management consultancy (PMC) contract on the scheme.

Adco is a joint venture of state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), the UK’s BP, the US’ ExxonMobil, the UK/Dutch Shell Group, France’s Total and Portugal’s Partex Oil & Gas.