Banks understood to be looking at the

advisory mandate include BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole Indosuez, Credit Lyonnais, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Investment Bank and Societe Generale.

Called Persian LNG, the project is being promoted by a partnership of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Spain’s Repsol YPF. The project is planned to come on stream by 2007. It is understood that the venture plans to market the output in Europe.

Persian LNG is one of four projects designated to produce LNG. France’s TotalFinaElf in partnership with Malaysia’s Petronas is involved in a second scheme, the Pars LNG, which aims to produce LNG for Japan, South Korea and other Far Eastern markets. TotalFinaElf says feasibility studies have been completed, with the next steps planned to be the setting up of a joint venture and the signing of a shareholders agreement.

Feedstock for the four projects, which will be located on the Gulf coast, will be secured from the South Pars offshore gas development. Several projects, including phases 11-12 and 14, have been allocated to supply natural gas to LNG plants.

NIOC is still evaluating bids for the buy-back contract to develop phases 11-12, which will produce 80,000 barrels a day of condensate and 2,000 million cubic feet a day of sour gas. Companies following the project include TotalFinaElf, Italy’s Eni, the UK’s BP and Norway’s Statoil. Tender documents for subsequent phases have yet to be released (MEED 20:9:02).