The UK/Dutch Shell Group has awarded two operations and maintenance deals to contractors to service its $16-20bn Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility at Ras Laffan, north of Doha.

Shell awarded the main maintenance deal, covering the Pearl GTL process units, to US contractor Fluor Corporation in the fourth week of November. It picked Qatar’s Madina Group for a contract servicing other parts of the development at the same time, says a source close to the project.

“Shell has been concentrating on the construction phase of the development, but the awards have now been made for the service element,” says the source.

Five-year service deals are rare in Qatar’s oil and gas sector, where most operations and maintenance work is done in-house.

Contractors bid for the work in late April 2009. Firms that tabled bids include the UK’s Wood Group with Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company; Fluor; the UK/local Amec Black Cat; Pakistan’s Descon Engineering; Australia’s Transfield Services with the local Mannai Corporation; the UK’s Petrofac with Doha Petroleum Construction Company; and Consolidated Gulf Company, Madina and Qatar Engineering & Construction Company, all local.

On 23 November, Shell pushed back its deadline for completing the Pearl GTL development to the end of 2010. The two maintenance deals will begin as soon as the plant begins commercial production.

Under its development and production-sharing agreement, Shell finances the whole project and carries all of the appraisal, development and production risks in return for a share in production with state-run Qatar Petroleum.