Saudi Aramco is prequalifying engineering consultancies for a new engineering services contract that will focus on its offshore facilities.

The move comes after MEED reported in April that Australia’s WorleyParsons had been given a two-year extension for the Maintain Potential Programme (MPP), Aramco’s current engineering services deal focusing on offshore operations. This contract will expire in 2015.  

However, oil and gas sources in the kingdom believe the new contract is expected to run concurrently with the MPP and not replace it.

“Aramco has high hopes for the Red Sea and if the reserves of hydrocarbons are there, it is going to take more than one contract to develop these assets,” says an oil and gas source based in the Eastern Province of the kingdom.

Aramco is currently carrying out extensive seismic surveys of the Red Sea and has already discovered a significant gas field off the coast of Duba.

The MPP covers the maintenance schedules for all of Aramco’s offshore facilities and has been executed by WorleyParsons since 2003. It is a large contract and WorleyParsons has 350 personnel working on it in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, many of them being engineers. Prior to the firm agreeing an extension, Aramco had been planning to retender the deal.

It is not yet known who will be invited to participate in the new engineering services contract. It is unlikely that the five engineering consultancies signed up to Aramco’s general engineering services-plus (GES-plus) programme will be the only companies invited. Sources believe that other firms outside the scheme will also be invited.

The five GES-plus members are the US’ Jacobs Engineering, Mustang Engineering and KBR, as well as Canada’s SNC Lavalin and Australia’s WorleyParsons.  

“Aramco will want to secure the best deal possible so it is likely there will be more than five bidders,” says a contracting source based in Saudi Arabia.

Aramco already has a long-term agreement in place with the US’ McDermott and Italy’s Saipem, which covers engineering, procurement and construction work for its offshore operations.