Saudi Arabia seeks international help in rolling out vast capital spend plans

UK’s Atkins is sole non-American firm in shortlist to manage kingdom’s future capital investment

Saudi Arabia’s National Project Management Office (NPMO) has invited seven big-hitting firms to bid to be its delivery partner on the kingdom’s vast capital spending programmes and its public-private partnerships deals.

The firms selected are understood to be six of America’s largest multidisciplinary engineers: Aecom, Bechtel, CH2M, Fluor, Hill International and Parsons, as well as Atkins, the largest engineer in the UK, reports Emirates Business.

They have until 12 July to submit proposals for the role.

The NPMO was formed last year as part of a modernisation of the country’s administration, as set out in the Vision 2030 reform plan published in April. The body is tasked with coordinating large and complex capital projects to reduce cost and maximise returns.

The delivery partner’s contract will be for an initial period of three years, with the possibility of an extension.

Majed Al-Qasabi, the minister of social affairs, said last September that the job of the NPMO was to "develop a scientific and practical methodology to manage public sector projects by using the best global practices".

The Vision 2030 said that it would be at the centre of the Saudi government machine, with the job of coordinating the actions of ministries and agencies. 

It states: "The kingdom’s agencies are undergoing a wave of reforms and transformation."

In the past, programme management has been used for individual developments and schemes. Bechtel, in particular, has been a played a prominent part in many of the kingdom’s most ambitious projects, such as the construction of the new town of Jubail on the Gulf coast, the Riyadh Metro and the Waad al-Shamal industrial city.

The NPMO will also oversee the kingdom’s privatisation drive. The government has identified about 146 state-owned entities that could be privatised as it looks to monetise assets to meet the country’s serious budget shortfalls.

The largest of these entities is Aramco, the national oil company, which is thought to be worth about $2 trillion. However, only about 5% of this is expected to be offered to private buyers.

Image: King Abdullah Economic City: one of Saudia Arabia’s numerous megaprojects  (KAEC)

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