Agip Oil, a 50:50 joint venture between Italy’s Eniand state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC), has opened prices for the construction contract on the El-Sharara-Melitah oil pipeline.

Egypt’s Petrojetis understood to be the low bidder on the estimated $180 million project, which is aimed at pumping oil from the recently-opened Elephant field on block NC-174 – operated by Agip – to export facilities on the coast.

Agip is keen to proceed rapidly with the project, and has stipulated an eight-month construction period for the first 200-kilometre section of the 720-kilometre-long pipeline. As a result of the fast-track nature of the project, sources close to the tendering process say that Agip may appoint two contractors to accelerate construction, with Petrojet completing the first section, and the second-lowest bidder China Petroleum Company International Engineering Corporationawarded a contract for the two other sections. India’s SAW Pipes,has already delivered the first shipment of pipes and Agip is expected to make a final decision soon.

About 10 companies, including Saipemand Bonatti, both of Italy, Athens-based Joannou & Paraskevaides, and Germany’s MAN GHH, submitted revised prices in early August for the 30-inch-diameter pipeline, which will have initial capacity of 150,000 barrels a day (MEED 2:7:04).

The pipeline’s front-end engineering and design (FEED) package was prepared by UK-based Teknica, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NOC.

Agip Oil is also evaluating bids for an estimated $20 million ball valves contract. Seven companies were invited to submit bids (MEED 7:5:04).