Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco has awarded contracts worth $18bn to expand production capacity at two offshore oilfields in the kingdom.

The company said it aims to increase output capacity at the Marjan and Berri oilfields by a combined 550,000 barrels a day. It will also boost capacity for natural gas output by 2.5 billion cubic feet a day. The projects will keep Saudi Aramco’s maximum sustained capacity at 12 million barrels per day.

Saudi Aramco awarded 34 contracts to 16 companies, half of which are Saudi companies, for engineering, procurement and construction work of the Marjan and Berri increment programmes. The projects are anticipated to create several direct and indirect job opportunities for Saudi nationals.

Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said: “These two programmes will significantly enhance Saudi Aramco’s oil production and gas processing capabilities, both strengthening our position as the leading integrated energy supplier and meeting growing long-term demand for petroleum.

“These investments will support our continued focus on employing best-in-class technologies, well completion, and reservoir management practices. It will enable Saudi Aramco to further reduce the carbon intensity of our crude oils, supporting our strategy of reducing emissions while providing energy to those who need it.”

The Marjan increment programme is an integrated development project for oil, associated gas, non-associated gas and cap gas from the Marjan offshore field. It features a new offshore gas oil separation plant, and 24 offshore oil, gas and water injection platforms.

Via the Berri increment programme, Saudi Aramco intends to add 250,000 barrels of Arabian Light Crude per day from the offshore oilfield. The Berri increment programme includes a new water injection facility, two drilling islands, 11 oil and water offshore platforms and nine onshore oil production as well as water supply drill sites.

After completion, the planned facilities will house a new gas oil separation plant in Abu Ali Island to process 500,000 barrels of Arabian Light Crude Oil per day. Additional gas processing facilities at the Khursaniyah gas plant will process 40,000 barrels of associated hydrocarbon condensate.