Companies have until 10 October to submit technical offers for the development of the Gassi Touil fields, which have estimated reserves of 9 trillion cubic feet, equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the country’s proven gas reserves. Gassi Touil is located on the western edge of the Berkine basin. The project will range from the appraisal and installation of necessary infrastructure for the three undeveloped northern fields, to gas transportation and the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. The three southern fields have an existing production capacity of 12 million cubic metres a day.

In a move similar to the hallmark In Salah gas project being undertaken by the UK’s BP, the selected developer for Gassi Touil will be required to market the gas produced. Production from the three fields in the southern zone reached 3,662 billion cubic metres in 1996.

It is understood that several Japanese companies have already appraised the Gassi Touil scheme, and are likely to be among the eventual bidders.

Data rooms are scheduled to be opened in June and July. Sonatrach is planning to send the final model contract to the bidders before 11 February, and the closing date for the submission of financial offers and for the award of the contract has been set for 11 March 2003.