Bids from four Asian shipyards were submitted to Sonatrach on 2 October and opened the same day. Kawasaki offered the lowest unit price for the tankers, $49.7 million, beating off competition from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, also of Japan, which was placed fourth with an offer of $54.5 million. Daewooand Hyundai Heavy Industries, both of South Korea, were classed second and third respectively in the tender evaluation. Kawasaki will provide two LPG tankers each with a capacity of 53,000 cubic metres. Sonatrach has the right to exercise its option for a third tanker of a similar capacity.

Sonatrach’s LPG production reached 3.9 million tonnes in the first half of 2001, an increase of 11.6 per cent on the corresponding period the previous year. The company plans to sell around 50 per cent of its LPG production on the international market and forecasts exports to reach 8.5 million tonnes in 2005.