Saudi Aramco helps engineering partners list on bourse

01 October 2009

Joint venture companies could list on Tadawul by 2015

Saudi Aramco has created a plan for up to five engineering and design joint ventures to list on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) by 2015.

The state-run oil giant is promoting the listing of the contracting firms to help develop a local workforce capable of working on the early stages of major oil and gas projects with the assistance of experienced international firms.

Aramco has invited global contractors to form joint ventures with local firms and bid for lucrative five-year engineering deals in an effort to build up specialist contracting knowledge in the kingdom.

According to a tender document, Aramco has a “long-term vision” for the engineering and design joint ventures to become listed companies. Aramco also wants the five engineering firms to serve energy companies across the Middle East.

It asks contractors bidding for the deals to provide a comprehensive business plan from 2010 to 2015. The business plans will act as guides for potential flotations.

The joint ventures will primarily service Aramco, but will also perform work for other clients in the kingdom’s Eastern Province and in the region, according to the document.

The general engineering services contracts cover feasibility studies, front-end engineering and design (Feed) work, project management support and contract management.

Aramco plans to award five separate deals, each for 10 million man-hours of work. It will award the deals to joint ventures of international firms and local companies.

Joint venture groups have to prequalify by 1 November and awards are due in the first quarter of 2010.

The stock market plan follows Aramco telling international contractors they will have to create joint ventures with local firms to compete for future engineering, procurement and construction contracts (MEED 27:3:09).

Under an investment plan from 2010 to 2014, Aramco aims to offer all the major contracts on its megaprojects to international companies that create joint ventures with local firms.

Although contractors can subcontract to companies outside the kingdom, Aramco will set quotas for the number of Saudi nationals that contractors need to employ on the design and construction phase of all projects. Aramco says it could fine international contractors if they fail to hire and train locals.

It remains unclear how quickly Aramco will implement the plan, however.

In July, Aramco backtracked on plans to make international contractors partner with local companies on bids for its $10bn Yanbu export refinery (MEED 10:7:09).

Aramco had planned to introduce the partnering policy for the main construction packages on its planned 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery on the Red Sea coast.

However, contractors that it had invited to bid for the six largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages on Yanbu in June, said Aramco was not applying the policy to the main process packages.

At least 12 firms have so far created joint ventures with local firms, but more are expected as a result of the changes.

The oil giant has created lists of preferred suppliers in the past, but it has now widened the remit of work for which contractors on the list can bid.

It has included contract management work for the first time, in addition to general engineering and construction services.

An executive planning to bid for one of the five contracts expects some of the world’s largest Feed companies and some of the biggest local conglomerates to bid.

He expects the bidders to include Foster Wheeler, Mustang Engineering, Fluor, Jacobs, Bechtel and KBR of the US, Australia’s WorleyParsons, France’s Technip, and Canada’s SNC Lavalin.

Aramco is to invest $60bn in boosting onshore and offshore oil and gas production over the next five years, with the bulk of its capital investment going towards 17 megaprojects.

Aramco was unavailable for comment.

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