MEED’s annual review of the region’s leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors in the hydrocarbons sector usually throws up one or two surprises and this year is no different.

Two of the top three contractors are European, with the UK’s Petrofac ranking first, winning more than $7bn of contracts in the past 12 months.

The South Koreans are still dominant and five of the top 10 positions are taken by them. Samsung Engineering finishes in second place for the third successive year, which indicates the consistency the company is showing. In many ways, this feat is more impressive than finishing top for one year as Italy’s Saipem, South Korea’s Daelim Industrial and Petrofac have in the past three years respectively.

There are still no Chinese or Indian contractors in the top 10, which might come as a surprise to people outside the region who had tipped them for future dominance, but not so much for people working on the ground in the Middle East.

Many national oil companies in the region are conservative by nature and gaining their trust is something that is measured in years not months. China’s Wison Group and India’s Larsen & Toubro picked up some small contacts for Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and Saudi Aramco in the past year, but this is merely the start of a long and arduous process. 

The next 12 months has some exciting schemes in the pipeline, especially in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The South Koreans still look set to maintain their dominance in the year ahead, but they will be made to work for it.