Qatar Petroleum (QP) and the US’ ExxonMobil Corporation are seeking to appoint a financial adviser for their $8bn Barzan project, to increase gas production from Qatar’s giant North field.

The two project sponsors held meetings in mid September with banks including the UK’s HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland, and France’s BNP Paribas, about the financial adviser mandate.

The contract involves con-ducting an initial three-month assessment of the project, and a wider role as financial adviser for the development.

The development of the Barzan gas project, which is designed to provide gas for the domestic market, will be carried out in three phases. The completion date for all three phases is 2016.

Bankers close to the talks say that several aspects of the project financing are still unclear. These include whether QP and ExxonMobil will finance each phase of the project separately, or sign a single deal for the entire project.

The projected cost of phase one of the project is $1.7bn.

QP and ExxonMobil plan to award the first-phase engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in late 2010.

In March, the two firms delayed bids for the first phase while they waited to see how far the cost of EPC contracts would fall as a result of the financial crisis (MEED 20:3:09).

QP owns 90 per cent of the project and ExxonMobil 10 per cent. QP and ExxonMobil have yet to tell the banks when they plan to make an award.