Saudi Aramco has awarded three contracts worth a total of $300m to the local/Chinese BGP Arabia to gather seismic data on fresh gas reserves in the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) and the Red Sea, and oil reserves at the Manifa field.

BGP Arabia is a joint venture of Saudi Arabia’s Rafid Group and BGP International, a division of state oil company China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

A Saudi-based contractor identified BGP as the frontrunner to receive the contracts in July (MEED 24:7:09).

The first deal is to gather 2D seismic data in the Empty Quarter for four years.

This is the first seismic study in the area since Aramco launched a major exploration programme with foreign oil firms in late 2003. The 2003 programme has yet to yield any commercially viable deposits of gas.

The second contract is for a two-year 3D seismic survey at the Manifa oil field in the Eastern Province, which has been partly developed. The $11bn Manifa programme, the largest offshore oil field development undertaken by Aramco, plans to produce 900,000 barrels a day (b/d) of Arabian Heavy crude by 2011.

The third contract is for a seismic survey over 15 months in the Red Sea in water up to 1,700 metres deep. It follows an earlier two-year seismic marine survey by BGP Arabia in late 2008.