State energy giant Sonatrach plans to award a deal to design a network of oil and gas pipelines linking fields in the southwest with distribution facilities in central Algeria by the second half of 2010.

The GR3 pipeline will link the oil and gas fields being developed in the southwest with the Hassi R’Mel distribution hub in the middle of the country.

Sonatrach released a tender for the front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract to design the network in June, and wants to make an award on the deal in early 2010, according to sources close to the state firm.

Sonatrach wants to build the first section of the pipeline by the final quarter of 2013, when Sonatrach and its partners Cepsa of Spain and Total of France start commercial production at their Timimoun concession. It is projected to produce 160 million cubic feet a day of gas, by the end of 2013.

“Sonatrach has decided to build the country’s gas pipelines itself and will need to have this ready in time for the start-up of the Timimoun production,” says the source.