Santos and Carnarvon Petroleum have awarded pre-front end engineering design (pre-FEED) contracts to three companies. These will compete to undertake the main FEED project for the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel of the Dorado field development.

Under the terms of the contracts, the contractors will independently work on their FPSO designs and mature their construction and supply plans for the vessel.

According to Carnarvon Petroleum, the award of the contracts will help the joint venture to maintain its project schedule, while the pre-FEED process is expected to determine the contracting strategy for the FPSO.

The Dorado oil and gas discovery is located in the WA-437-P exploration permit in Australian waters.

Santos operates the field with an 80% stake, while Carnarvon Petroleum holds the remaining 20% stake.

Carnarvon Petroleum managing director Adrian Cook said: “The award of the pre-FEED contracts for the supply of an FPSO is a significant step and demonstrates the momentum which is building within the Dorado development project.

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“The shortlisted organisations have supplied excellent vessels in recent times and Carnarvon looks forward to working with them during the next phase of the project to ensure we have an optimised technical and financial solution.”

The final investment decision (FID) on the project is expected to be reached next year, subject to market conditions at that time.

Last October, Santos reported positive appraisal flow test results of the Caley reservoir from the Dorado-3 appraisal well offshore Western Australia.