U.S. engineering and construction company McDermott International plans to bid for $5 billion in contracts in the next few months in Asia Pacific as the region’s offshore oil and gas sector recovers, company executives said March 20.

The value of contracts available for bids is up from $4 billion six months ago, the McDermott executives said.

“We have seen a 15-20 percent increase in the number of projects that we can bid in the region,” Mahesh Swaminathan, senior commercial director of McDermott Asia Pacific, told reporters on the sidelines of the OTC Asia conference.

“This is why we say that there are already some green shoots and we hope that they continue to grow,” he said, referring to a recovery in the offshore exploration and development sector.

Global oil prices that have held steadily above $60 per barrel and sharp cost cuts in the upstream sector are encouraging companies to pump money into E&P, although many producers remain wary that the U.S. shale oil and gas boom could keep prices lower for longer.

McDermott plans to place 20 bids for projects in Malaysia, India, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar, the executives said, without specifying which projects.

McDermott also hopes to close a deal to merge with Chicago Bridge & Iron Co (CB&I) in May, said Ian Prescott, vice president of Asia at McDermott.

The merger will add to the two companies' capabilities and resources in the region, he said. These include CB&I’s engineering office in New Delhi that employs between 600 and 800 people, its business in Australia, fabrication of storage tanks for LNG, oil and natural gas, and its refining and petrochemical technology, Prescott said.