The partners behind the $10bn-plus Shah gas development in Abu Dhabi have pushed back the bid deadline for a key product pipeline construction deal for the second time in as many weeks, sources close to the project tell MEED.

Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco), which is tendering contracts on behalf of the 60:40 joint venture partners Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), has asked for commercial bids to be submitted by 16 March.

This marks an extension of nine days from the 7 March deadline it set for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal two weeks before, itself a postponement from the original 28 February cut-off it had previously set.

Sources at firms hoping to bid on the deal tell MEED that they did not ask for an extension, but that the client decided to push the deadline back.

“This came from the client’s side, not ours,” says a senior source at one firm. “There was no explanation of why they pushed it back.”

Firms bidding on the deal include India’s Punj Lloyd, Italy’s Saipem, the UAE’s Dodsal, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company and China Petroleum Engineering & Construction.

The contract would be the second to be awarded on the huge scheme to develop sour, or sulphur-rich, gas supplies from the southern Shah field. It covers the construction of product pipelines to carry natural gas, condensates, and natural gas liquids from the Shah field to processing and distribution facilities at Habshan in the north of the emirate.

Bidding on other construction packages was pushed back until March in late 2009 and early 2010 as Adnoc and Conoco tried to make a decision on the best way to transport sulphur stripped from the natural gas from Shah to Habshan and Ruwais. They plan to use either a railway line or technically complex liquid sulphur pipelines (MEED 22:1:2010).

News of their decision is expected before the end of March.

Local media reports suggest that Abu Dhabi-based Al-Jaber Group was awarded the first EPC deal on the project, a $300m contract covering site preparation.