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Hebron is located about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John's, and in the same basin on the Grand Banks as the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose fields ((CBC))

A contract has been awarded for the front-end engineering on key components of the platform that will drill for oil at the Hebron oil field off Newfoundland's east coast.

Australian engineering firm WorleyParsons announced Wednesday it had won the contract for what is called FEED work — front-end engineering and design — for the topsides of a massive platform that will work on the multibillion-dollar Hebron offshore oil project.

WorleyParsons said the work it will do through 2011 is worth $61 million US. Over five years, the contract has a value of $285 million.

The topsides will include living and working quarters for the crew aboard the gravity-based platform.

ExxonMobil is leading a consortium to develop Hebron, which will be the fourth field in Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry to go into production.

The Hebron field is about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John's, and in the same basin on the Grand Banks as the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose fields.

WorleyParsons said it expects subcontracts to be awarded to "multiple third parties," and there will be a "special emphasis" on placing engineering work in Newfoundland and Labrador to meet a benefits agreement worked out between the Hebron partners and government.

In 2008, when the Hebron development agreement was reached, Premier Danny Williams said the megaproject could deliver more than $20 billion to the province's treasury.

The project is expected to generate as many as 3,500 jobs during its development.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government also owns a 4.9 per cent equity stake in Hebron.