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Mon 21 Dec 2009 10:47 AM

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Aramco awards $373.3m deals for seismic work

Saudi-based ARGAS to start gathering the data in the Zuluf oilfield in Nov 2010.

Saudi Aramco has awarded two seismic contracts to explore offshore oil and gas reserves worth SR1.40bn ($373.3m) to Arabian Geophysical and Surveying Co. (ARGAS).

The award comes just a few months after BGB Arabia won contracts to conduct seismic studies in the Red Sea, Moneefa oilfield and some areas in the Empty Quarter.

The Saudi-based ARGAS expects to start gathering the data in the Zuluf oilfield in November 2010, it said in an e-mailed response, adding that work would be completed in two years.

Seismic work at Zuluf is an extension to the shallow water contract which Argas completed last month and would extend to the Iranian border, it said.

Zuluf is one of Saudi Arabia's largest oilfields and is near the Safaniyah and Marjan oilfields.

The second contract covers difficult-to-access areas, Argas said. It did not provide further details but said both contracts would cover Gulf waters.

Argas will conduct its seismic surveys through ocean-bottom-cables, it said.

This method allows seismic surveys to be conducted in areas that are not accessible to marine vessels such as shallow water or around drilling platforms.

"This prepares for some kind of a programme for the long term...It usually takes 3 to 4 years to start drilling," said Sadad al-Husseini, a former top executive at Aramco.

Khalid al-Falih, Aramco's chief executive, said earlier this month his company plans to explore for oil and gas in the deep waters of the Red Sea off the country's western coast.Last month, he told Reuters Aramco planned to drill in deeper offshore frontiers in 2012.

Argas is 51 percent owned by Saudi Industrialization and Energy Services Co (TAQA) while France CGG Veritas owns the remainder. (Reuters)

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