Saudi Aramco is expected to award China’s Sepco the contract for two booster gas compressor stations, as part of the first phase of its Master Gas System Expansion (MGSE).

MEED reported in September that Sepco and Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas (TR) were the two frontrunners for the scheme. However, in an extremely close contest, it is looking likely the Chinese contractor will be given the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal.

The budget for the contract is expected to be around the $1bn mark, although about 30 per cent of the total figure will go to the US’ GE for its Nuovo Pignone compressors. A decision is expected before the end of October.

The scope of work includes the EPC of the two booster compressor stations as well as all associated works including offsite and utilities. The location is between Dammam in the Eastern Province and Riyadh.

“This has been an extremely close-run bid round,” says an oil and gas source based in Saudi Arabia. “It is estimated that less than $10m is separating [Sepco and TR].”

In October 2013, MEED reported that the US’ Foster Wheeler had been awarded the front-end engineering and design for the scheme.

The MGSE is being implemented to meet increased gas demand from the kingdom’s Central and Western Regions. When the scheme has been completed, it will be able to provide 9.6 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas using the booster gas compressor stations and pumping stations. 

A further three booster compressor stations are due to be added in a second phase.

The Master Gas System is operated by Aramco and is one of the world’s largest hydrocarbon networks. Construction started on the scheme in the mid-1970s as a means to transfer gas across the kingdom to support industrialisation. The system became fully operational in 1982 and allows Aramco to market all of its gas domestically.

Sepco and Aramco were not available for comment when contacted by MEED.