The four packages cover a captive power plant, central processing facilities, field processing facilities, and a pipeline of about 200 kilometres in length. Total project costs are estimated at some $500 million.

A shortlist is expected to be drawn up in about two months and tenders are due out by the end of the year. A large number of companies is understood to have applied for prequalification, with the list looking very similar to that for the Melut basin development of blocks 3 and 7. All six packages on the $1,500 million Melut basin project were awarded in the second quarter (MEED 18:6:04).

Block 5A has seen considerable change in its operating consortium over the past year, as Western firms have withdrawn from the country under pressure from human rights groups. OVL acquired the 26 per cent holding of Austria’s OMVwhile Petronas bought out the 40 per cent stake owned by Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum(MEED 5:9:03).