Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) has delayed, by three weeks, the deadline for companies to submit prequalification documents for the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on its estimated $1bn project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the kingdom.

Seventeen firms submitted prequalification documents by the original 1 September deadline. A source at the kingdom’s tender board, however, says that Bapco decided to extend the deadline until 22 September after several companies asked for more time to prepare their submissions. The documents will be opened publicly on 23 September. The contract is expected to be awarded in 2011.

In 2008, state-owned National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) and US firm Hess Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of an LNG import terminal in the kingdom. An initial study assessed the best configuration and location for constructing the terminal (MEED 20:10:08).

If commercially viable, Noga will consider the creation of a joint venture between Hess LNG and state-run Bapco to own and operate the facility.

Securing the energy resources needed to power further projects has become a pressing concern for Manama. As well as negotiating with Doha and Tehran over gas supplies, Bahrain has previously called for the establishment of a GCC-wide gas pipeline network to allow member states to pool gas supplies.

Bahrain’s natural gas reserves are expected to fall to approximately 75 billion cubic metres by 2011, from 84 billion cubic metres, making exploration or new import deals essential.

Talks with Tehran about possible gas imports have stalled and Doha’s reluctance to lift its moratorium on any new gas projects in its giant offshore North field means a gas supply deal with Qatar is unlikely to be struck until 2013-14 at the earliest.