Among the companies understood to be seeking prequalification on the estimated $1,000 million-1,500 million development are Jacobs Engineering, Fluor Daniel, Foster Wheelerand Parsons Corporation, all US-based.

Aramco has not specified further details on the tender schedule but industry sources say ITBs are expected to be released by early 2005.

The 500,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) field development will be implemented on a fast-track basis, with the tender for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) work expected around mid-2005.

The Abu Hadriyah project will be Aramco’s first full field development since the onshore Shaybah field came on stream in 1998 and is part of a wider programme aimed at raising the kingdom’s oil production capacity well above the existing level of 10.5 million b/d. Aramco’s decision to raise capacity comes against the background of strong global oil demand.

The Abu Hadriyah field was first discovered in 1940 and is located near the Gulf coast, about 200 kilometres north of Dammam.