Qatar Petroleum (QP) is tendering a front-end engineering and design (feed) contract for the protection of its offshore oil and gas fields.

Should the project go ahead, the scope is likely to involve offshore helicopter landing pads and motion detectors, according to a source at a bidding company.

While QP responsible for launching the tender, it is working on behalf of the Defence Ministry.

“The ultimate client is the Ministry,” says a source at a company bidding for the feed contract.

The project would link in with a similar contract for Qatar’s onshore fields.

Sources familiar with the project say that Qatar is concerned about the threat of Iran, which is only a few hundred kilometres from Qatar’s offshore facilities.

Opinions are divided about the award date, with one bidder believing that the contract would be awarded at the end of May.

“The offer went in on 15 March, I think the contract will probably be awarded sometime in June,” said a source at another bidding firm.

He also doubts as to whether QP will be going ahead with the engineering, procurement and design (EPC) stage, once the costs of the project have become evident.

“I don’t think the project will get awarded after the feed, it will give the government an idea about the estimate,” he said.

Qatar derives the bulk of its oil and gas from offshore production. In January, QP signed a joint venture agreement with ExxonMobil to develop the Barzan gas field, located in the country’s giant offshore North Field. The Barzan development will produce 1.4 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas, will come on stream in 2014.