The third-largest U.S. oil company—ConocoPhillips—won a contract to develop a $10 billion natural-gas project in the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg News reports.

ConocoPhillips will hold a 40 % stake in the Shah field, while state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known as Adnoc, will own the rest, the Abu Dhabi-based company said today in a statement. The partners will share the project's cost, Adnoc said, without disclosing financial terms or a timeframe for the project. The cost has been estimated at $10 billion.

``It's a positive for ConocoPhillips,'' Philip Weiss, an analyst at Argus Research in New York who has a ``buy'' recommendation on the stock told BN. ``Some of their competitors have been involved in that area, and they haven't really been.''

Abu Dhabi, capital of the U.A.E., is developing gas reserves to meet accelerating gas demand as record oil export revenue finances offices, tourist attractions, roads and airports. Houston-based ConocoPhillips won the contract after the U.A.E considered bids from companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

As part of its expansion plans, ConocoPhillips in May signed an agreement with Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's state-run oil company, to jointly build and own a 400,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Yanbu on the Red Sea coast that will make ultra-low sulfur fuel from heavy grade crude oil.

ConocoPhillips and Adnoc expect to conclude an agreement on the project by the end of this year and will form a joint- venture company to manage the gas facilities, according to the statement.