Saudi Aramco is planning to award the Dutch/Vietnamese joint venture Damen Song Cam a contract for 15 patrol vessels worth $180m that will form part of its proposed $1bn offshore security contract planned for its Gulf operations.

Early reports suggest the security contract’s original budget of $500m could double to $1bn by the end of the main contract tendering stage as the quotes for the patrol vessels are already over the original budget.

The contract will be handled by the US’ Raytheon, which is carrying out the front-end engineering and design (feed) for the scheme from its UK office. It will then be novated into the main contract after it is awarded.

“Raytheon will take care of the purchase order and then hand it over to the main contractor,” says a defence source. “The boats have a long lead time, so Aramco will want them to make a start.”

MEED reported in early November that Aramco was planning to spend up to $1bn on bolstering its offshore defence network for all its oil and gas assets. Prequalification for the main contract is under way and a main tender package is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

The scope of works includes:

  • 15 patrol vessels
  • Long-range radar system
  • Cameras and early detection systems on all offshore assets
  • Central control centre located at Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province

The defence contractors vying to bid for the main tender include:

  • Airbus (France-based)
  • Boeing (US)
  • General Dynamics (US)
  • L-3 Communications (US)
  • Raytheon (US)

Saudi Aramco is ramping up the security to secure its offshore assets. The company has always insisted its assets are as secure as a military base and that each has elaborate countermeasures in place to repel a potential attack.

Security experts in the past have cited several potential dangers to the assets of the world’s largest oil exporter. These include suicide terrorist attacks from the air or sea, as well as longer-range rocket attacks from small vessels.

Saudi Aramco and Damen Song Cam were not available for comment when contacted by MEED.