Saudi Aramco is expected to make a decision in June whether to go ahead with the $3- billion Khurais oilfield expansion project in the Eastern Province under the present market conditions.

The company is currently locked in negotiations with Saipem, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the $2-billion central processing facilities (CPF) package, with a view to lowering project costs, decelerating construction works and better cash flow management.

However, Aramco has also said that if substantial cost savings are not possible after the engineering phase is completed, it could cancel the whole project. The engineering work is now being undertaken by Saipem. The current slow-down in works has also extended the completion deadline to late 2019.

The Khurais Arabian Light Crude Increment project, as it is also known, is an onshore oilfield development which was initially discovered in 1957. By 2009, the central procession facility at Khurais had a processing capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 320 million cu ft per day (cfd) of associated gas, as well as 80,000 bpd of natural gas liquids.

The current objective of the expansion programme is to increase production capacity at the CPF by 300,000 bpd, as well as to enhance production from the Mazalij and Abu Jifan fields.