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Saudi Aramco calls in defense firms for offshore security -sources

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, July 24 (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco plans to increase security around its offshore facilities and has received bids for the work from defense firms, industry sources told Reuters.

Bidders include Raytheon Co of the United States, Germany's Rheinmetall AG, Leonardo's Selex ES Saudi Arabia and General Dynamics, the sources added.

The contract involves installing long range integrated security systems at nine offshore sites in the Gulf, two sources said adding more tenders are expected as Aramco considers expanding its offshore oilfields and upgrading their security.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, said in June it had detained three Iranians who it said were members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) approaching the kingdom's offshore Marjan oilfield on a boat. Iran said those detained were fishermen.

Aramco declined to comment on the contracts or its security plans, but said in an emailed statement that it "considers the security of its employees and facilities a top priority and are of the utmost importance."

General Dynamics declined to comment, while Raytheon did not respond to an emailed request for comment and Rheinmetall could not be reached for comment.

Leonardo, the parent company of Selex, declined to confirm whether it was bidding for the contract but said it was pursuing "growing commercial opportunities in the region."

The company "is following closely emerging security needs in the Gulf area, including in the oil and gas industry," a Leonardo spokeswoman said.

Bids are currently being evaluated by Saudi Aramco, one of the sources said, adding that he expected the state oil firm to award the security contract towards the end of 2017 or the beginning of next year. (Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; editing by Alexander Cornwell and Alexander Smith)