The deadline for prequalification is late May, paving the way for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bids to be submitted by the end of the year. The contract is also expected to involve a financing option. A team of France’s Technip-Coflexipand Japan’s JGC Corporationis carrying out the front-end engineering and design (FEED) package for the project.

The EPC tender cannot be issued until a new project company is formed. NIOC is in advanced talks with two European companies about taking stakes in the new company. Marketing agreements have also still to be finalised.

The project is one of four LNG plants proposed for integration with South Pars phase 11. The sponsors of the three other projects are France’s TotalFinaElf, in partnership with Malaysia’s Petronas, the Royal Dutch/ShellGroup, in partnership with Spain’s Repsoland the UK’s BP, in partnership with India’s Reliance. At the annual Oil & Gas show in Tehran in mid-April, NIOC president Seyyid Mehdi Mir Moezzi told MEED he expected phase 11 of South Pars to be signed by the end of 2003.