The UK’s Gulf Keystone Petroleum has invited international contractors to express interest in the construction of an oil export pipeline in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Firms have been asked to submit bids for site construction and installation for a 36-inch pipeline running 122 kilometers (km), which is expected to run from the Shaikan field to Iraq’s northern oil export pipeline to Turkey.

Firms have until 22 March to submit their interest, before invitation to bid documents will be issued.

The pipeline is designed to operate at a maximum pressure of 95 bars, although its intended capacity has not been revealed.

According to the pipeline project’s tender documents, published on 6 March, “an option to install an additional 122km x 36-inch diameter pipeline is also required”.

Gulf Keystone has a 51 per cent interest in the Shaikan field, which according to a 5 March report by investment bank HSBC could contain more than 4 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.  The company hopes to bring the field on stream within three years, with ambitious plans to ramp production up to 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) by the end of 2016.

The company has been the subject of increasing speculation over its future role as operator of the Shaikan field.

“Although we acknowledge that the successful exploration and appraisal programme has transformed the company’s outlook, we do not believe the company has the ability to carry out a major development. We therefore would not rule out it selling to a major player,” says the HSBC report.