Abu Dhabi offshore oil and gas developer Zakum Development Company (Zadco) has put a major project to expand its gas processing facilities on hold while it considers integrating the scheme into another development.

The company had planned to award an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the expansion of processing facilities at the Upper Zakum field by the end of 2009. The scheme targeted boosting processing capacity from the current level of 125 million cubic feet (cf/d) a day to 230 million cf/d. Projects tracker MEED Projects CMI valued the deal at $400m.

The scheme involves the debottlenecking, or expansion, of an existing gas processing train and the addition of a second train at an existing platform at the Upper Zakum oilfield.

Zadco plans to build four artificial islands at the Upper Zakum field to house new drilling and processing infrastructure as part of a $15bn scheme to increase production at the field from 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 750,000 b/d by 2015.

The company is now studying the feasibility of building the new processing facilities on one of the islands rather than extending the platform and has put bidding for the EPC deal on hold, a senior source on the project tells MEED.

“We are looking at both options and once we have completed the study we will be able to decide which way to go,” the source says. “It has not been cancelled, it is just on hold until we decide what we want to do.”

Building offshore facilities on artificial islands rather than on platforms can cut the cost of projects by 20-30 per cent, according to Zadco’s major projects manager Salah al-Bufalah.