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Oil, Gas and petrochemical projects in Middle East

The Middle East has become a popular investment destination, given its extensive energy resources and a rapidly growing population. While many countries in the region rely on crude oil to support their growth, some forward-looking governments have spent their historically large budget surpluses on public works and other projects designed to stimulate their domestic economies.

Investors looking forward to direct exposure in Middle Eastern markets can invest directly in certain countries in the middle east.

With new opportunities arising for all major Oil & Gas investors in the middle east region, we are looking at the biggest ongoing projects in the Middle East that are creating jobs and contributing to the changing market in 2023.

Top 10 investment projects in the Middle East:

1. Upper Zakum - Production Capacity Enhancement

Location: UAE

The second largest offshore oil field in the world is operated by the Zakum Development Company (ZADCO) - a joint venture of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) (who hold a 60% interest), ExxonMobil (28% and the Japan Oil Development Company (Jodco) (12%).

Located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the field is estimated to hold around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent. In 25 years of operation, only 10% of its total capacity is believed to be processed through 173 wells.

Zadco is now looking to increase production from the field from 500,000 b/d to around 750,000 b/d using four artificial islands as platforms for drilling, processing and distribution.

Three phases were planned, with the first covering construction of early production facilities, the second building permanent production facilities to boost production by a further 150,000 b/d and the third covering a series of smaller projects intended to sustain production at the targeted 750,000 b/d. The three phases have been completed.

2. Yanbu - Crude Oil-To-Chemicals complex

Location: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) agreed a deal back in 2016 to set up a joint oil-to-chemicals project in the Red Sea city of Yanbu. This marked the first time that the two companies have worked on a joint project in Saudi Arabia.

The planned complex aims to produce chemicals and base oils directly from 20 million tonnes per annum of crude oil. Around 9 million tonnes per annum of chemicals and base oils are expected to be produced, including 2.8 million tonnes per annum of ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene and xylene.

The project will involve construction of a full oil refinery and three crackers to process the crude derivatives into intermediate chemicals, which will be fed into downstream processing facilities that are also planned to be constructed as part of the complex.

It is expected that the project will use Saudi Aramco’s Catalytic Crude to Chemicals (CC2C) technology - which the company is developing with Axens and TechnipFMC. The technology has the potential to be significantly increased the efficiency and yield of chemicals production, converting more than 60% of a barrel of crude oil into chemicals. Saudi Aramco hoped to have the technology commercially ready by 2021, so it is highly likely that the Yanbu COTC project could be one of the first to be fully incorporate it.

Several contracts have been awarded already for early stages of the project, and it is now expected that the facility will be completed by 2028.

3. Ruwais Refinery Complex - Third Grassroot Refinery

Location: UAE

Originally commissioned in 1981 and expanded in 2015, the Ruwais Refinery complex, located 240km west of Abu Dhabi, has a refining capacity of 922,000 barrels per day.

In 2018 ADNOC announced their plans to add a third refinery to the complex, as part of a $45 billion downstream development investment to develop flexibility in refining and processing other grades.

The new grassroot refinery will have a capacity of 600,000 b/d, bringing the entire complex up to a total capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day - making it the largest refinery in the world.

In February 2019, ADNOC awarded an $8 million contract to Wood for a pre-FEED package based upon its proven design and execution expertise. The company will also provide services including licensor selection, site master plan development, scope of work for the FEED phase and an EPC schedule and cost estimate.

It was expected that the pre-FEED works to be completed by July 2020, and for the EPC after 2021. The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

4. Zubair Oil Field - Rehabilitation Phase and Enhanced Re-Development Phase

Location: Iraq

Located 20km southwest of Basra, the Zubair oil field is one of the largest in the world, with 4.5 billion barrels of proven reserves. Eni have been undergoing expansion works through a rehabilitation phase and enhanced re-development phase, with the aim to increase production from Zubair from 195,000 barrels per day to a plateau of 700,000 barrels per day.

Works include the design, supply and commissioning of an 18” carbon steel gas pipeline to carry up to 100 million cubic feet per day of gas from a depot at the Zubair field to the Fao depot. The scheme includes pressure and temperature gauges and tie-in works at the Zubair-1 and Fao depots along with a 10-metre wide service road running along the pipeline road. There is also construction of five degassing stations, revamping existing degassing stations to cope with the increase in production, overhauling existing wells and construction of a new water injection project. A 740MW gas fired captive power plant is being constructed to support the expansion of production at the field.

In 2019, production capacity reached 500,000 barrels per day. In May, Eni announced plans to invest $7 billion in the field for further development, but have yet to give details on the next phase. The initial plans are still in place to reach 700,000 b/d by 2023.

5. Ras Laffan - Qatargas - NFE

Location: Qatar

The Ras Laffan refinery on the coast of Qatar produces approximately 10 million tonnes per annum of LNG, with feed gas coming from the southern sector of Qatar’s North Field.

Following a planned 30% expansion of production from the North Field by 2023, six new LNG liquefaction trains are being installed at Ras Laffan with the intent to produce an additional 37.2 mtpa of LNG from the site. This will increase Qatar’s total production capacity from 77 mtpa to 126mtpa.

Onshore facilities are expected to receive 4.6 bcf/d of feed gas from the North Field and will produce approximately 4,000 tons/day of ethane as feedstock to a petrochemical development in Qatar, 260,000 boe/d of condensate and 11,000 tons per day of LPG.


In addition to the new trains, a helium plant will also be constructed, producing approximately 16 tons per day.

The project is expected to reach total production capacity by 2027.

6. Basra Gas Gathering Project

Location: Iraq

The Iraqi Gas Master Plan will rapidly increase development of Iraq’s associated gas resorvers that most of which are being burned off. The Basra Gas Gathering project forms a major part of this project and will help provide gas to the domestic power industry as well as exporting LNG via a floating liquefaction facility off Basra.

The project is looking to produce 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas flared primarily from three oil fields in the south of the country: Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna Phase 1. The three fields currently produce 1.05 billion cubic feet per day, but only 450 million cf/d is utilised while the rest is flared.

Phase 1 of the project will capture and dehydrate gas from the compressor stations at the West Qurna-1 and 2 fields. Gas will be transported by a 40”, 50km pipeline to the North Rumaila NGL plant. Condensates will be pumped through an 8” pipeline running alongside it to a slug catcher, where liquids and gas will be separated.

The project has been on hold for a significant period, but was revived in 2017. It is now expected to be completed in 2025.

7. Al Zour Refinery

Location: Kuwait

One of the world’s largest refineries is being planned for Al Zour, where 100,000 barrels per day of low-sulphur fuel oil will be used as feedstock by the Ministry of Electricity & Water for power generation. It will use more than 1.5 million barrels per day of crude and 300 MMcf/d of gas feedstock.

The project entails five phases. The first is the construction of the main facilities, including three atmospheric residue desulphurisation (ARDS) units featuring two trains each, three crude distillation units (CDU), three diesel hydrotreating units (DHTU), two naphtha hydrotreating units (NHTU) and two kerosene hydrotreating units (KHTU). The second and third phases are the construction of support process units, utilities and off-sites. The fourth and fifth involve the construction of a 6.5 million barrels capacity storage tank farm and interconnecting pipelines and marine and export facilities including jetties and roll-on, roll-off berths.

The project was initially planned as far back as 1999, but following multiple delays, it was expected to come on line in June 2020, with production reaching capacity by the end of 2020.

8. Abu Dhabi North West Development - Hail and Ghasha Sour Gas

Location: UAE

The Hail and Ghasha sour gas fields, located offshore Abu Dhabi, are being developed by ADNOC with the intention of producing up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of sour gas plus additional condensate. The project is intended to increase the UAE’s domestic gas production by 18%.

9. Rumaila Oil Field

Location: Iraq

The super-giant South Rumaila field is the largest oil field found in Iraq. Located 20 miles from the Kuwaiti border, the field is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of reserves.

The field is partially developed with around 1.4 million barrels per day being produced. The Iraqi government wants to increase production to around 2.1 million barrels per day with the installation of new oil wells. To cope with the increase, four crude oil processing plants are being installed that will raise capacity by 300,000 barrels per day.

It has thought that on completion, Rumaila will become the world’s second largest producing oil field and will contribute approximately 10% of Middle East production, 7% of OPEC production and 3% of global production.

BP is currently working on a plan to boost production that will be present to the Iraqi Oil Ministry for approval. The target production rate is expected to be reached by 2027.

Both fields are located in water depths of 0 to 15 meters, with sour gas levels in the range of 18%-35% of H2S and 5%-10% of CO2 depending on the reservoir.

Development of the project involves construction of multiple offshore islands, wellhead platforms, offshore facilities, subsea pipelines and onshore gas gathering terminals.

On February of 2020, KBR confirmed that they have secured a PMC contract from ADNOC for managing the execution of EPC package 1-5 of the Hail and Ghasha development project. The project is expecting to start up in 2024.

10. Marjan Oil Field Expansion

Location: Saudi Arabia

Discovered in 1967, the Marjan Oil Field estimated to contain around 2.31 billion barrels of crude. Currently Saudi Aramco produce around 270,000 barrels per day from the field, with the country working on an expansion project that will increase capacity to 475,000 barrels per day of oil, 813,000 barrels per day of liquid and up to 750 MMcf per day of gas.

17 EPC packages have been identified so far for the expansion, six offshore and six onshore - though it is thought that up to 20 could be put to tender.

The Middle East Oil & Gas landscape has been through massive changes in recent years, with the result that investment throughout the region is now spreading across a more diverse range of projects, including LNG and technical offshore projects.

It is expecting that research from Rystad Energy predicting the offshore exploration spending is likely to increase five-fold by 2025.

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