Iraq is making steady progress on its plans to develop a major oil export pipeline network connecting the north and south of the country and further on to export as much as 1 million barrels a day (b/d) of crude oil through Jordan.

The Oil Ministry held a meeting with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms, financiers and developers in the Jordanian capital, Amman in the middle of February to outline the latest plans for the pipeline.

The firms now have until 19 March to finalise their bidding consortiums, according to Ghassan Ashqar, senior vice-president for business development in the Middle East at Canada’s SNC Lavalin, the project management consultant for the scheme.

Speaking at the MEED Iraq Energy Projects conference in Dubai on 26 February, Ashqar set out an ambitious timeline for the pipeline’s development once the consortiums are formed. Technical bids will be submitted on 3 June, followed by commercial bids on 20 July. The Oil Ministry hopes to conclude its evaluation of bids in August and to reach financial close with its preferred bidder before the end of December.

Nine firms are leading the consortiums. These are:

SNC Lavalin is also working on the front-end engineering and design (feed) for a 2.25 million b/d pipeline from Basra in the south to Haditha in the northwest of Iraq which will supply the Jordan pipeline.

In contrast to the Iraq-Jordan pipeline, which will use a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contracting model, the pipeline from Basra to Haditha will be funded by the Oil Ministry and will use traditional EPC contracts.

Tenders are expected to be issued before the end of 2014 for three packages, one for the 56-inch, 676-kilometre pipeline, another for five pumping stations and a final one for storage facilities at Basra and Haditha for 14 days’ worth of oil. A decision on a third storage facility, to be located at Karbala, has not yet been taken.