French contractor Technip is the frontrunner to win a $1bn Qatar Petroleum (QP) construction contract to upgrade gas facilities at Dukhan and Mesaieed.

An executive close to the project says Technip submitted the lowest bid on 22 November for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

The other bidders were the UK’s Petrofac and a group of Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company with the US’ Black & Veatch. Italy’s Saipem submitted its own bid for the contract.

QP plans to award the contract by the end of December, says the executive.

The state-owned energy company delayed the deadline for commercial bids twice to give an in-house team more time to finalise the front-end engineering and design (Feed) phase of the project. Feed was originally carried out by Australia’s WorleyParsons.

Contractors submitted technical bids to build the facilities in January.

The winning group will build facilities at Mesaieed such as an acid-gas removal unit and an amine sweetening plant.

The 750-million-cubic-feet-a-day (cf/d) plant will primarily supply gas to Qatar’s petrochemicals and power plants.

The second phase of the contract is for an acid-gas removal unit at the onshore Dukhan field.

The unit will have capacity to process about 450 million cf/d of gas from the Khuff reservoir.

In 2008, QP tendered the EPC contracts as two separate deals, but decided in early 2009 to combine them because the two jobs are so similar.