A joint venture of France’s Technip and Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation is the frontrunner to win a $1.2bn construction deal for Qatar Liquefied Natural Gas Company’s (Qatargas) project to maintain its current levels of gas production.

The winning bidder will help Qatargas keep its liquefied natural gas (LNG) output at 10 million tonnes a year at its Qatargas I project at the Ras Laffan industrial complex until 2030.

Four international contracting groups bid for the job, dubbed the plateau-maintenance project, on 25 October. The bidding teams are the Technip and Chiyoda venture; Japan’s JGC Corporation with South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction; Italy’s Saipem; and Japan’s Toyo Engineering Corporation in a consortium with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

“The deal is not likely to be awarded until December, but Technip and Chiyoda are in a strong position on this one,” says a Doha-based executive who also bid for the contract.

The Technip-Chiyoda team carried out the front-end engineering and design contract for the project in the first half of this year.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal runs for three years and four months, and requires the winning group to build a sulphur-recovery unit and undertake offshore drilling.

Technip is also one of six firms competing for a separate EPC contract for Qatargas at Ras Laffan Industrial City, worth between $800m and $1bn. This is to build a facility to collect jetty boil-off gas, which is created during the production of LNG.