The successful bidder will be responsible for producing outline designs and a route for the 120-kilometre-long, 27-inch-diameter pipeline from the Beddawi power plant, near Tripoli in the north, to the Al-Zahrani plant, south of Sidon.

The selected bidder will also be required to carry out a study on the possible construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Al-Zahrani.

The bidders are: the US’ Jacobs Gibb,with the local Rafik El-Khoury & Partners; Belgium’s Tractebel Engineering International; Terasen Internationalof Canada, previously known as BC Gas; Charles Rivers Associates, Intec Engineering and K&MEngineering,all of the US; Ukragazof the Ukraine; and France’s Sofregaz.

The successful company will have about two months to prepare tender documents for the contract for the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) pipeline project, which will be completed in 2005.

The pipe will connect with a new pipeline from the Syrian border to the Beddawi plant, which is being converted by a joint venture between local contractors Hawi and Argosy. The project is due to be completed by May 2004. The joint venture was awarded the $13.7 million project after the original contractor, Ukraine’s Ukrbudmaterialy, withdrew from the project (MEED 6:2:03).Germany’s Kirchner is the consultant. The 64-kilometre link will carry 1.5 million-3 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) of natural gas to the Beddawi plant, which is diesel-fired.

Sources at the ministry say its conversion to gas will save around $90 million a year.

They added that the LNG terminal is being considered as a way of ensuring the supply of gas. Beirut is attempting to cut its fuel bills by converting all seven of its power plants to natural gas by 2006/07 to enable savings of up to $300 million a year. However, this will require 10 million cm/d of gas. The LNG terminal could play an important role in securing such quantities.

The Beddawi-Al-Zahrani pipe- line will increase natural gas imports from Syria to about 3 million cm/d. Under a 2001 agreement with Damascus, Lebanon secured a discounted price for gas and left open the option of purchasing up to 6 million cm/d.

Under a third phase of the gas conversion programme, Beirut will construct a pipeline to Al-Zahrani from Syria, which will be connected to a regional natural gas pipeline from Egypt that is currently under construction in Jordan (MEED 26:9:03). When complete the pipeline will supply local power plants with 3 million-4 million cm/d of Egyptian natural gas.