Qatargas is expected to award a delayed $1bn gas recovery project at Ras Laffan Industrial City in January with the US’ Foster Wheeler the frontrunner to win the deal.

A source close to the project says although an award was still several weeks away, Foster Wheeler is expected to clinch the contract.

“It was initially seen as a battle between Foster Wheeler and [the US] Fluor Corporation but I understand the client now favours Foster Wheeler,” says the source.

In December Qatargas postponed an internal board meeting to approve the deal.

The state-controlled liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer delayed the meeting to approve the deal until 20 December from the original 5 December date.

Other companies which bid for the deal included KBR, Stone & Webster, both of the US; France’s Technip; and Italy’s Tecnimont.

Qatargas retendered the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in the second quarter of 2009, with the aim of benefiting from lower construction costs throughout the Gulf for oil and gas projects because of the global economic downturn.

Fluor completed the front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract for the project in the first half of 2009.

The facility will collect vapours, known as ‘jetty boil-off gas’, created during the production of LNG and reduce the amount of gas that Qatargas has to flare.

The winning contractor will provide compressors and supporting utilities.

Qatargas plans to increase its LNG production to 42 million tonnes a year (t/y) in 2010, from 25 million t/y currently. The jetty boil-off project will produce an estimated 800,000 t/y of gas.

Qatar Petroleum owns 65 per cent of Qatargas.