DEL is expected to appoint contractors for the midstream and upstream FEED packages by mid-December. Both packages attracted bids from four international companies in October.

The selection of a new midstream partner is likely to be made by early March. Five international companies held technical meetings with DEL in November and are due to be given access to the data rooms soon, after which they will submit their proposals. The five prospective partners are Conoco, ExxonMobil Corporationand Occidental Petroleum Corporation, all of the US, Royal Dutch/Shell Groupand the UK’s BP. The selected company will replace the US’ Enron Corporation, which pulled out of the DEL venture in May.

The Dolphin gas project involves the development of a block in Qatar’s North field gas reservoir, the construction of onshore processing facilities at Ras Laffan and the installation of a 350-kilometre pipeline to the UAE. The network will deliver an estimated 2,000 million cubic feet a day of dry gas, starting in early 2005.