At least three leading international engineering contractors are battling it out for a revised front-end engineering and design contract from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) for the giant Hail & Ghasha offshore sour gas development.

Two people with direct knowledge of the tender process told Upstream that WorleyParsons, Fluor and Technip Energies are in the frame for a coveted re-FEED project.

“This trio recently submitted bids to Adnoc,” one person confirmed.

Wood and KBR were also said to be among the early contenders for the engineering contract, but are unlikely to be in the final fray, another person said.

Optimisation exercise

The much-delayed Hail & Ghasha scheme is the largest sour gas project being carried out in the Middle East this year and its cost was initially pegged at upwards of $20 billion.

However, Adnoc's optimisation exercises mean the cost is expected to be lower, Upstream understands.

Adnoc has been a pushing ahead with preparations for tenders involving multiple engineering, procurement and construction packages involving Hail & Ghasha, but these are likely to be put on the back-burner to allow the optimisation exercises to follow their course, leading to a revised FEED on the project.

One project watcher said that the re-FEED study could take at least eight to 10 months to carry out, meaning the EPC stage is likely to be pushed back by several months.

Bechtel of the US carried out FEED work for the Hail & Ghasha in an earlier phase of development.

The chosen re-FEED contractor is expected to incorporate additional engineering to optimise the project, Upstream understands.

Contract award before year-end

Adnoc is still expected to award the prized re-FEED contract before the end of this year, project watchers said.

The Emirati state-owned giant is yet to take the final investment decision for Hail & Ghasha, and some of its key partners, including Italy's Eni, said last year that they would review the development in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adnoc had previously tendered four key EPC packages that involve most of the work for Hail & Ghasha.

However, those tenders are now likely to be cancelled, as the operator wants to optimise the project further.

Adnoc declined to comment on the tender process.

However, the company had earlier told Upstream that it “remains focused on delivering the Ghasha concession and expects the project to achieve a capacity of over 1.5 billion cubic feet per day by around the middle of the decade."

Scope details

The project's Package 1 workscope included offshore drilling centres, subsea pipelines and compression platforms.

Package 2 comprised facilities to be installed on the project's artificial islands and involves the Ghasha offshore processing plant and central living quarters.

Package 3 involved onshore utilities and tie-ins, and Package 4 included a major onshore gas plant at Manayif to process sour gas from the two fields.

Package 5, which involves work on Hail & Ghasha's artificial islands, has been awarded to the United Arab Emirates' National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC).

That $1.4 billion contract includes dredging, land reclamation and marine construction for multiple artificial islands in the first phase of development.

NMDC is building 10 new artificial islands and two causeways, as well as expanding an existing island, Al Ghaf.

The Hail & Ghasha fields are located off Abu Dhabi in water depths of less than 15 metres.

Ghasha is unofficially estimated to hold more than 5 trillion cubic feet of gas.