Qatar has fast-tracked the Barzan project to produce offshore gas from its big North Field to supply the domestic market, after earlier suggestions that the project had been delayed.
Abdullah al Attiyah, the country's deputy prime minister and energy minister, says the main contract to build about US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) of onshore facilities to process the gas would be awarded in a matter of weeks.
"The tender is open now and hopefully in one month or less, or in early 2011, they will award the contract," he said yesterday.
The $1.7bn joint venture between state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) and ExxonMobil will supply gas from the world's biggest gasfield to power stations and petrochemical plants in Qatar. The first phase of the project is expected to supply 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of gas to the domestic market, as Qatar makes a major push to expand its gas-based chemical industry.
Mr al Attiyah played down reports that Barzan had been delayed until 2015 because of a domestic surplus of gas, and predicted the project would be completed in late 2013 or early 2014.
"First gas flow is planned for 2014," ExxonMobil said. "The project team is currently evaluating the contract bid."
At least 10 international contractors have expressed interest in building facilities for the project, industry reports say. The winning bidder for the first phase would build two gas-processing plants.
As late as last December, that contract was expected to be awarded by the end of this year. However, the project partners delayed the development, ostensibly because of costs, while ExxonMobil considered whether it would remain as a partner in a related project to build a $6bn petrochemical plant.
Last week Royal Dutch Shell and QP signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a petrochemical complex at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar to make monoethylene glycol, the main component of antifreeze, and other gas-based chemicals.