UK-based Amec Foster Wheeler has been awarded the front-end engineering and design (feed) contract for the expansion of the Shah gas development in Abu Dhabi.

Project owner Al-Hosn Gas is planning to expand the capacity of the field by 50 per cent within the next five years.

Amec Foster Wheeler’s design study is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2017 and will provide the information needed for the final investment decision.

Al-Hosn Gas, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and US-based Occidental Petroleum, started production at the Shah onshore gas field in Abu Dhabi in 2015, after completing a $10bn project.

The new project will expand the operation’s capacity to 1.5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) from 1 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of sour gas.

“Under the terms of the contract, new units will be engineered to expand the plant’s processing capacity along with all associated offsites and utilities necessary to integrate the new units with existing installations, including gas gathering facilities, main gas plant, product pipelines and the sulphur granulation plant,” Al-Hosn said in an announcement.

Adnoc holds a 60 per cent stake in Al-Hosn Gas, with Occidental owning the remaining 40 per cent.

In January this year, UK/Dutch Shell pulled out of a deal to develop a similar sour gas project at the Bab field. Plans to develop sour gas reservoirs at the offshore Hail and Ghasha fields also remain at an early stage.

Over the past decade, the UAE’s production of associated gas has not been enough to meet growing demand. The government has developed sour gas fields, increased pipeline gas imports from Qatar and started liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to meet consumption requirements.