DEL invited companies to prequalify by the 31 July deadline for a total of six packages on the on- and offshore elements of the project, which is aimed at delivering 2,000 million cubic feet a day of Qatari gas via a 440-kilometre subsea pipeline to the UAE. The gas will be sourced from the offshore North field in Qatar.

Two delineation gas wells have been drilled and tested at the offshore site. ‘The first well was drilled to decide on the location of the block [from which gas will be sourced],’ says a project official. ‘The second, for which drilling was completed recently, will decide the location of a platform.’ Up to 20 wells are planned to be drilled at the North field block by France’s TotalFinaElf, which holds a 24.5 per cent stake in DEL.

DEL is also finalising gas sales agreements (GSAs) with three main buyers – Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity & Water Authority, Dubai Supply Authority and the local Union Water & Electricity Company. ‘We hope to conclude GSAs by year-end,’ Al-Sayegh said.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has also set up a gas co-ordination committee to study ways to hand over the operation of its eastern gas grid to DEL. The move follows an Emiri decree issued in May for the proposed handover. ADNOC operates the 32-inch-diameter Maqta-Jebel Ali gas pipeline.