A consortium of France’s Technip and the local National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) are considered the frontrunners to win an estimated $800m contract to build offshore early production facilities (EPF) in Abu Dhabi.

The partners submitted the lowest price to Abu Dhabi’s Zakum Development Company (Zadco) on 4 March, beating rival proposals from UAE-based McDermott and Italy’s Saipem, sources close to the project tell MEED.

The commercial proposals were submitted more than a year after the scheme was first tendered. Technical proposals were submitted in May 2011.

The scheme has faced long delays due to slow progress on the construction of four artificial islands that will house drilling platforms and production facilities. These are now expected to be completed in April.

Zadco plans to boost output at the offshore Upper Zakum reservoir to 750,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the current 500,000 b/d by adding offshore production facilities. The first phase of facilities will increase output by 100,000 b/d.

Zadco is a joint venture of state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), US oil major ExxonMobil and Japan Oil Development Company.