Qatar will award $1.7bn of contracts for the development of the Barzan gas field by the end of 2010, according to Energy & Industry Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

The tendering process for construction deals on the development was delayed in 2008 and 2009 while the country tried to take advantage of falling engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) costs, Al-Attiyah told delegates at the MEED Qatar Projects 2010 conference in Doha on 26 January.

“The delay to the scheme was the right decision,” said Al-Attiyah. “We expect to save a lot of money. We are taking advantage and taking benefit from changing costs.”

State energy firm Qatar Petroleum (QP) and its joint venture partner on the development, the US’ ExxonMobil, issued a solicitation of interest notice to contractors at the end of November.

More than 10 international contractors have expressed interest in the four EPC deals to build the Barzan facilities since prequalification started in 2009, according to Al-Attiyah.

QP expects to complete the prequalification process by the end of March, with final a final bidding deadline set for June. “By the end of 2010 we will award all the packages for Barzan,” says Al-Attiyah.

Firms that have lined up to bid on the deals include the US’ Foster Wheeler in a consortium with Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas; South Korea’s Samsung Engineering in a consortium with Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation; Hyundai Engineering & Construction, also of South Korea, with Japan’s Toyo Engineering Corporation; South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Company; Japan’s JGC Corporation; Italy’s Saipem; and France’s Technip.

Chiyoda carried out the front-end engineering and design (Feed) study on the gas facilities.

The 6.2-billion-cubic-feet-a-day (cf/d) development is expected to be carried out in three phases. Phase one will include the building of two onshore gas processing trains by the end of 2013, delivering a combined capacity of 1.7 billion cf/d. The second phase will deliver a further 2 billion cf/d of gas, and the third phase another 2.5 billion cf/d.

The Barzan project is intended to meet Qatar’s growing domestic natural gas requirements, primarily for power generation and water desalination. Qatar’s natural gas consumption in 2008 was approximately 19.8 billion cubic metres, according to the UK’s BP.