Sonatrach has extended for a second time bid deadlines on all seven projects in its estimated $15,000 million petrochemicals programme in order to attract more interest in the flagship scheme. Sources in Algiers say the deadline has been extended to mid-April for the five integrated petrochemicals projects at Skikda and Arzew, as well as a fuel oil catalytic cracking plant at Skikda and a 300,000-barrel-a-day refinery at Tiaret. Work is not expected to get under way until the end of the year. Sonatrach intended to award contracts by the end of the first quarter (MEED 23:12:05).
'The deadline for technical bids has been delayed untilmid-April in order to allowmore time for companies to prepare their bids, and thereby maximise the number ofbidders,' a senior representative at state petrochemicals company Entreprise Nationale d'Industrie Petrochimique (ENIP) told MEED on27 March. The extension is the second delay to the bidding process following the postponement of the original January deadline to mid-March.Subsequent alignment of technical bids is likely to take three months, with commercials expected to be submitted in July. Successful contractors will be selected on the same day, but contract signature is not expected until the end of the year. 'The complexity of the contracts - which will include front-end engineering (FEED) and design, offtakes and ground leasing - means that it is likely to be a long time before work starts,' says a source close to the project.Expressions of interest for the multi-billion dollar programme were initially sought in early 2005. Foreign partners are expected to take a majority stake in each of the projects (Petrochemicals, MEED Special Report, 28:10:05, pages 48-50).