Under the schedule announced in April, an initial evaluation and negotiation period will now take place, after which shortlisted bidders will be given 45 days to submit commercial proposals based on a single bid parameter.

The 30-year contract, comprising a five-year construction and development phase and a 25-year production phase, includes the development of the Tinhert block, which has capacity of 4,000 million cubic metres a year of gas and will provide feedstock for a 36,000-barrel-a-day GTL plant.

The contract also calls for: the drilling or rehabilitation of wells and the construction of associated pipelines and treatment facilities at 17 gas fields and seven oil reservoirs; the deepening of development wells to explore the high-potential Cambro-Ordovician reservoir; and the exploitation of six mature oil fields.

It is understood that there will be at least two engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages on the development, one for the construction of the GTL plant, and at least one other for associated works. Invitations to bid (ITBs) for the EPC packages are expected to be issued in mid-2006 (MEED 8:4:05).