The larger of the two EPC contracts is the Melitah-Tripoli pipeline scheme, worth an estimated $170 million. It entails the supply and installation of a 120-kilometre-long, 21-34-inch-diameter pipeline and the construction of a compressor station and a fire safety system.

The second contract, worth about $100 million, is for the completion of the 160-kilometre-long, 34-inch-diameter Khoms-Tripoli pipeline and the construction of two compressor stations between Marsa el-Braga and Misurata. In 1999, SOC awarded the contract to Russia’s Zangas. However, the company did not complete the work (MEED 5:3:99).

‘SOC is expected to start financial clarifications in March, with an award due by early May,’ says a project source. A dispute between SOC’s parent company, National Oil Corporation (NOC), and the Oil Ministry over the tendering process is unlikely to get in the way of the contract award. The Oil Ministry is understood to favour companies bidding alone rather than as consortia. ‘This is a preference of the Oil Ministry and is not binding. Such conditions should have been set before the submission of bids,’ the source says.