South Korean contractors have emerged as the frontrunners for the four engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts at the Shaybah natural gas liquids (NGL) project in Saudi Arabia.

An announcement regarding the successful bidders for the packages is expected to be made in February by Saudi Aramco and all indications now point to another series of awards to South Korean companies.

“The [South] Koreans have bid very aggressively for this project in the same way they did for Wasit [gas development programme],” says a local contracting source. “Now it is up to Aramco to decide which bids to accept.”

Saudi gas reserves*
Cubic feet (trillion)
Year Gas reserves
2005 239.5
2006 248.5
2007 253.8
2008 263
2009 275.2
*=Associated and non-associated gas
Source: Saudi Aramco 

Another source familiar with the bidding process confirms that the South Koreans are the lowest bidders for all four packages, but says that this still does not mean that the lowest is going to be successful.

“Even if SK [Engineering & Construction] are the lowest, I still don’t think they will be selected after winning three packages at Wasit,” says the source . “From what the market is saying I think that Samsung [Engineering] are in the best position to win multiple packages on this project.”

The South Korean contractors bidding for Shaybah are Samsung Engineering, GS Engineering & Construction, Daelim and SK Engineering & Construction and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

The packages on offer at Shaybah mirror the ones offered for the onshore part of the Wasit gas development. The packages are a cogeneration plant, a gas treatment facility, an NGL recovery plant and utilities (MEED 8:10:10).

The Shaybah NGL project will see Aramco separate about 228,000 barrels a day (b/d) of NGL from crude oil produced at the Shaybah field in the Empty Quarter of the kingdom. Phase one of the gas processing facilities will involve the construction of two NGL trains. Ethane and propane will also be produced.

The US’ KBR is the project manager at Shaybah NGL and is also conducting the front-end engineering and design (feed).