Amec, a British energy engineering firm, announced yesterday that it has been awarded a contract by a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to help expand production capacity at the Upper Zakum reservoir, a giant offshore oilfield. The announcement is a major advance in a plan to increase production capacity at Upper Zakum from more than 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,00 bpd, as part of Adnoc's larger scheme to increase Abu Dhabi's oil production capacity from 2.7 million bpd to 3.5 million bpd. Under the terms of the US$75 million (Dh275.43m) contract, Amec will provide engineering and project management services to replace a pipeline, build gas treatment facilities and develop the east and west areas of the field, the company said. Adnoc officials declined to comment on Amec's announcement. Amec is a large engineering firm based in Britain that has been involved in a wide array of energy projects ranging from nuclear reactors to hydroelectric stations. The company maintains offices in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and a subsidiary branch in Kuwait. It has also provided asset engineering support services for BP in Sharjah for "a couple of years", said an Amec spokesman. The contract awarded yesterday marked the company's first foray into Abu Dhabi in 15 years, the spokesman said. The move may provide a stepping stone for Amec to win more contracts in the emirate and the GCC. "This contract on one of the world's major offshore fields is another significant step in our strategic growth plans in the Middle East and North Africa region," said Tony Cruddas, the president of growth regions within Amec's natural resources division. "We hope [the contract] will lead to further work in the region." The Zakum Development Company (Zadco), an Adnoc subsidiary that produces oil at the Upper Zakum reservoir, plans to increase production capacity from 520,000 to 600,000 bpd by 2011, with a second increase to 750,000 bpd coming by 2013. In 2005, the Government signed a deal with ExxonMobil that transferred 28 per cent of Zadco's ownership to the international oil giant. The deal was widely seen as a means for Adnoc to gain access to Exxon's technology and expertise to help raise production at the technically challenging reservoir. The reservoir is located 84km northwest of the capital and sits in a layer directly atop the Lower Zakum field, the charge of the Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, another Adnoc subsidiary.