The Sonatrach-led joint venture carrying out the exploration and production of both oil and gas at the Bir Seba field in Algeria has released a $500m tender for a gas and oil separation process (GOSP) plant and associated facilities.

The scope of works for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract involves the construction of the plant, as well as associated utilities and a pipeline.

The gas and oil separation process plant will separate the crude oil and gas in a four-stage process. The crude is then transferred to storage via a pipeline, while the gas is treated on-site.

“A tender was released a few months ago and although the situation in Algeria is a little bit slow at the moment, commercial bids are still expected to be submitted in June,” a source says.

The state-owned Sonatrach is developing the Bir Seba field, which is located at Toggourt in the Sahara with Thailand’s PTTEP and the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam) (MEED 12:8:09). Sonatrach has retained a 35 per cent, with Petrovietnam holding a 40 per cent stake and PTTEP holding the remaining 25 per cent.

“Exploration has been carried out since around 2009 and initial production is due to start in either fourth quarter of 2011 or 2012,” the source says. “However, with the slow progress being made at the moment I think 2012 is more likely.”

Bir Seba holds recoverable crude reserves of 180 million barrels. Production is due to start at 20,000 barrels-a-day (b/d) rising to 36,000-b/d by 2014.

The company’s headquarters will be in Algiers until operations begin in the Sahara, when it will relocate to the Sahara.