Saudi Arabia kicks off tender for giant offshore facilities... for an oil theme park!Idea for offshore oil theme park has grown in scale and could even include newbuild facilites
2 May 2022 9:48 GMT UPDATED 2 May 2022 15:02 GMT
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has kicked off a tender process for building multiple offshore platforms and amusement facilities for its multi-billion-dollar oil theme park to be located near Juraid Island and the Berri oilfield.
Oil Park Development Company (OPDC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, has sought proposals from leading international offshore oil and gas contractors to construct facilities meant for the giant oil park, several people familiar with the development told Upstream.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) floated by OPDC takes a familiar format for oil sector contractors.
It starts with preliminary engineering studies ahead of a future contract for front-end engineering design work on the offshore facilities. This will then lead to huge contracts for the engineering, procurement and construction phase, Upstream understands.
The oil-themed project comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has highlighted its intent to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 and reduce its domestic dependence on crude oil.
Inspired by oil platforms
Article continues below the advert
Saudi Arabia’s PIF had earlier unveiled its plan in October to develop a theme park inspired by offshore oil platforms, which is likely to be named — The Rig.
One industry source said the work being offered by PIF is huge, with the contracts likely to be worth more than $5 billion, once it moves into the execution phase, although this project estimate could not be independently confirmed by Upstream.
Up to four giant-sized bridge-linked offshore platforms are expected to be a part of the project and could involve more than 200,000 tonnes of offshore fabrication, another source said.
A third person said that the fabrication scope of the oil park project dwarfs some of the largest engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) projects in the Middle East oil and gas industry.
Newbuild, tooInitially, the kingdom had plans to use only refurbished rigs and oil and gas facilities, but the scale and size of the project required the establishment of “newly constructed offshore platforms,” one source said.
Another one said the PIF is keen to move quickly with the project and wants to commission the facilities in a 27-30 month period.
A person close to the development described the project schedule as “aggressive,” and said the execution could be complex as the project involves multiple facilities and heavy offshore structures.
Leading offshore contractors that are a part of Saudi Aramco’s long term agreement (LTA) arrangement are expected to queue up for the oil theme park project.
Industry sources pointed to contractors such as Italy’s Saipem, McDermott International of the United States, South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, Indian engineering giant Larsen & Toubro, Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) and UK-headquartered companis Lamprell and TechnipFMC.
The participation of such players could not yet be confirmed by Upstream as the project and PIF have not yet responded to an Upstream query on the envisaged oil park project.
The project’s development rests on five key pillars: bottom-fixed platforms with jackets and piles, hospitality assets, activity assets, infrastructure and accessibility assets, industry sources said.
It is likely to cover more than 150,000 square metres in shallow waters.
Facilities on the offshore platforms are likely to be split equally between hospitality, including hotels and restaurants, and entertainment, including a water park, retail shops, convention centre, amusement parks, and coastal tourism facilities and other facilities catering to oil and gas culture and heritage.
Oil tourism destination
Saudi Arabia has dubbed the project as the "world's first tourism destination inspired by offshore oil platforms," which is aligned with the kingdom’s long-term Saudi Vision 2030's strategy, aimed at promoting the tourism industry.
While millions of tourists are attracted to nearby tourist destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the kingdom has been unable to capitalise on this opportunity, due to its human rights concerns and restrictions on women's freedom.
The kingdom is seen to be interested in attracting positive headlines after its image was tarnished by the Jamal Khashoggi affair, involving the assassination of a Saudi dissident and journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been ushering in several reforms in the kingdom and “The Rig” is part of a new strategy that aims to boost tourism in Saudi Arabia.
The PIF claims that “The Rig” seeks “environmental protection in the project’s area, in line with global best practices and in support of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to preserve the environment.”
PIF said last year that the project in the tourism and entertainment sector is expected to be a significant value-add to the local economy.