Qatar Petroleum (QP) has invited at least 10 international contractors to express interest in its $1.7bn construction contract to build facilities to help it develop the offshore Barzan gas structure in Qatar’s North field.

QP’s joint venture with the US’ ExxonMobil Corporation issued a solicitation of interest notice to the contractors at the end of November for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

This follows the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) winning the mandate in mid-November to raise the $8bn that the Barzan joint venture needs to develop the structure.

Barzan asked the contractors to express interest in the EPC job by 30 November, according to several firms that received the notice.

QP expects to prequalify contractors by the end of March 2010 and invite bids in the second quarter. Barzan will award the contract in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Companies invited to express interest include Fluor Corporation, KBR and Foster Wheeler, all of the US, South Korea’s Samsung Engineering and Daelim Industrial Company, Chiyoda Corporation, Toyo Engineering Corporation and JGC Corporation, all from Japan, Italy’s Saipem, and France’s Technip.

Chiyoda carried out the front-end engineering and design (Feed) study on the gas structure.

Contractors expect Barzan to develop the structure in three phases. The winning bidder for the first phase will build two onshore gas processing trains by the end of 2013, with a combined capacity of 1.7 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d). The second phase will deliver a further 2 billion cf/d and the third phase another 2.5 billion cf/d of gas.

The Barzan project aims to meet the natural gas requirements of Qatar’s power and water generating companies.