Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) is expected to make a decision in late January or February regarding an alliance contract that will see the chemicals firm team up with engineering partners to manage its existing process plants in Saudi Arabia.

The alliance agreement is being developed by Sabic Engineering & Project Management (Sabic E&PM) and will initially involve two international companies being given the responsibility for the upgrade of an existing complex controlled by Sabic. If the initial plan is successful then eventually 15 plants will be split between the two partners.

“Coming to an agreement that will be beneficial to both Sabic and any prospective partners has been a challenge, but it is nearly there now,” says an oil and gas executive based in Saudi Arabia. “Sabic would ideally like their team to work exclusively on new megaprojects and most contractors would like a longer-term deal. Hopefully this will be reflected in any agreement that is signed.”

Firms interested in bidding for the contract include:

  • Fluor Corporation (US)
  • Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Jacobs Engineering (US)
  • KBR (US)
  • Samsung Engineering (South Korea)
  • Technip (France)

The partnership agreement is believed to be similar to the general engineering services-plus (GES-plus) scheme that has been developed by state-owned oil major Saudi Aramco. In the GES-plus programme, five international consultancies provide in-kingdom engineering and project management support to Aramco in a move designed to increase the expertise of local engineering talent.