Abu Dhabi-based contractors have won a four-week extension to the bid deadline on the $1bn contract to build a network of gas pipelines across the emirate.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract is part of a $10bn scheme to produce and process 1 billion cubic metres a day of sour, or sulphur-rich, gas from the Shah field in the south of the emirate.

Contractors say the joint venture partners on the scheme, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and the US’ ConocoPhillips, agreed to the extension in early October.

Adnoc and ConocoPhillips originally asked contractors to submit technical bids, outlining engineering proposals, on 11 October. They have now put back the deadline until 4 November. The 10 December deadline for commercial bids, setting out cost structures, remains unchanged.

Contractors say they asked for an extension because Adnoc failed to give them enough time to prepare their bids. The joint venture partners are reassessing the scope of the entire project, says an executive at one of the bidders.

“Because a lot of work still needs to be done on the design of the project, Adnoc is pretty happy to give extensions here, where it would not necessarily on other projects,” says the executive.

Adnoc has yet to decide how it will transport sulphur from the Shah field to its processing facilities at Habshan and its export terminal at Ruwais. The national oil company and its US partner originally planned to build a 275-kilometre-long pipeline heated to
120-155°C to carry the sulphur, but are now considering an alternative 264km railway line.

If they choose the railway, they will have to alter the scope of the project substantially, according to one executive close to the scheme.