Bids by 12 foreign oil majors for three Saudi gas projects worth tens of billions of dollars have been referred to the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) headed by King Fahd, a newspaper reported Monday, April 30.
A committee that has been negotiating the offers with the companies passed on the bids along with detailed recommendations for the council to make a final decision, Al-Iqtissadiya business daily said. The committee, comprising ministers who are also SPC members, is headed by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
The three gas projects are located in the South Ghawar field near Al-Hufuf in the kingdom's Eastern Province, Shaybah in the Empty Quarter of southeast Saudi Arabia, and the northern Red Sea. They cover an area of 440,000 square kilometers (176,000 square miles), making it the world's largest area for hydrocarbon investment.
Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi said in mid-April that the study of the bids was still in its preliminary stages, but foreign oil executives expected a decision with a few weeks. US majors Enron and Occidental in a joint bid, as well as Chevron, Conoco, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Phillips and Texaco have been shortlisted for the Saudi projects. Rounding out the list are European firms BP Amoco, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell and TotalFinaElf. ExxonMobil, Shell and TotalFinaElf are in the bidding for all three ventures.
The projects involve gas exploration and production, setting up petrochemical industries and power and water desalination plants. Al-Iqtissadiya said a number of bids had been excluded by the negotiating committee, but at least half of the companies would be picked. The projects are to be carried out simultaneously by consortia of two to three firms in cooperation with Aramco, the Saudi national oil company, the newspaper said.
Aramco has been working to double the Saudi gas network's capacity from the current 3.5 billion cubic feet (105 million cubic metres) per day to seven billion cubic feet (210 million metres) daily in 2004. This will boost supplies for industrial use to Riyadh, eastern and western regions. Saudi Arabia, which sits on top of the world's biggest oil reserves, has proven natural gas reserves of 220 trillion cubic feet (6.6 trillion cubic metres). —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)