Huge new investments by Iran and Saudi Arabia have boosted the total value of planned projects in the Persian Gulf petroleum sector to an estimated $739.6 billion until September this year despite a marginal rise in shelved projects, according to the latest study by the Kuwait Financial Centre, or Markaz. This represents an increase of about $12.5 billion since August 2011, but an increase of only about $3.5 billion since the end of the second quarter 2011, Markaz Research said. The number of major petroleum projects planned over the next decade stood at 725, a minor decrease of one project over the month. In terms of the number of planned petroleum sector projects, Saudi Arabia continues to lead Iran, whereas in terms of cumulative value of petroleum projects, Iran continues to lead, senior analyst Ali Rampurwala and senior vice-president Nawaf Marafi said in Markaz\'s latest Petroleum Projects Commentary. \"On a month-on-month change basis, projects in Iran witnessed the highest increase of around $17 billion, most of which is attributed to the upstream oil and gas segment, whereas projects in Qatar witnessed the highest decrease of around $3 billion,\" the report said. The value of total refining and petrochemical projects remained relatively stable, witnessing minimal changes on a month-on-month basis if looked at from a segment perspective. In contrast, the value of projects in upstream oil and gas segment increased from $450 billion to $461 billion. Markaz said a review of the timing of the upcoming petroleum sector projects indicates that a large proportion of the projects have a short-term horizon. \"During the month, the mix of timing of projects has changed slightly; eight projects were added to the medium-term horizon, whereas six and three projects were removed or reclassified from the long-term and short-term horizon respectively.\" The value of long-term horizon projects increased, by about $8 billion whereas the value of those with a medium-term horizon increased by about $3 billion. While the number of cancelled/on-hold projects increased marginally, their total value decreased marginally over the month. Upstream oil and gas projects continue to be most affected. In the UAE, French engineering firm Technip has been awarded a $500 million contract at the Satah Full Field Development in Abu Dhabi. The contract is in partnership with the National Petroleum Construction Company. Markaz said Saudi Arabia would pump $63 billion into projects to boost its petrochemical industry. Nearly 21 per cent of the value of the 62 projects is in the execution stage while 33 per cent is in the study phase, and 18 per cent is in the bidding stage. Iraq is seeking about $30 billion of investments to build five oil refineries to add enough fuel-processing capacity to avoid importing gasoline and diesel. The projects would raise capacity to transform crude into fuels by 900,000 b/d. National Iranian Offshore Oil Company will sign a $5 billion contract with a consortium of Asian companies to develop Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf. The contract will be inked by March 20, 2012. The field will produce 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The Middle East\'s first super heavy oil refinery will be constructed in Iran\'s Qeshm Island. The refinery will have a capacity of refining up to 30,000 b/d Kuwait Oil has signed a $547.7 million deal with Al Kazemi International Group, the local agent of South Korea\'s GS Engineering and Construction. Oman Petroleum Company is planning to award $1.04 billion of contracts for work in its oil and gas fields before the end of this year. Yemen currently has approximately 16 projects upcoming in the petroleum sector, with an estimated cumulative value of $5.8 billion. These projects are focused heavily on the upstream oil and gas segment.