Algeria’s Transport Ministry will delay the award of the contract to build a container terminal at DP World Djen Djen port, which is operated by the Dubai ports company in Algeria by three months because of an ongoing corruption investigation into state energy firm Sonatrach.

The contract to design and build an expansion of the port, which is 350-kilometres east of Algiers, will be awarded in June, sources close the project tell MEED.It was originally due to be awarded in the first quarter of 2010.

A number of international firms submitted bids for the contract in January, but since then there has been no progress.

“Bids were submitted in January, but we still have not heard anything,” says a source closely involved with the project. “We are not sure when the winning bidder will be announced yet. Further delays of 2-3 months are expected. The [Sonatrach] situation is having an effect on all projects.”.

The corruption investigation into the activities of senior executives at Sonatrach is already affecting construction projects in the country’s oil and gas industry, with $6bn of refinery projects delayed.

A spokeswoman for DP World, which took over the management of Djen Djen in June 2009, declined to comment.

In May 2009, the ministry awarded a deal to expand the north and east breakwaters of the port and to build a new breakwater to South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction (MEED 29:5:09).

The expanded port will act as a shipment hub for the western Mediterranean and will also be the main terminus for eastern Algeria. DP World also manages the Port of Algiers under a 30-year contract it won in April 2009. It renamed the port DP World Djazair.