Shell Is the Nearest to Win Bab Sour Gas Project

Source: Reuters 4/22/2013, Location: Middle East

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will award a multi-billion dollar contract to develop the Bab sour gas field in a few weeks and Royal Dutch Shell is in a strong position, the director of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) said.

Industry sources said in March that ADNOC had recommended to the emirate's Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) that Royal Dutch Shell be awarded the project to tackle Bab's tricky sour gas ahead of rival bidder Total. The SPC usually agrees with ADNOC decisions, but has not yet ruled on whether to award Shell the project which has been valued at $10 billion.

"Soon we will pick one of them... in a couple of weeks," ADNOC director-general Abdulla Nasser Al-Suwaidi told reporters on the sidelines of the Middle East Petroleum & Gas Conference organised in Abu Dhabi by Conference Connection.

"The recommendation is not disclosed at this time, because it's still an internal process, but Shell has a good standing."

The ultra-sour gas deal could give Shell a showcase to project its gas treatment technologies. Many had expected it to win the contract to develop Abu Dhabi's Shah gas field in 2011 but it lost out to Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N). It also could give the Anglo-Dutch energy giant a competitive edge in talks for the 2014 renewal of the UAE's largest onshore oil concession on which the Bab field stands.

Total looks likely to be overlooked for the Bab project despite a French charm offensive which saw French President Francois Hollande fly into the UAE in January to help Total's bid.

The winning bidder for the Bab project will be expected to form a joint venture with ADNOC as the majority shareholder.

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