The shortlisted bidders are: the Royal Dutch/ShellGroup; ChevronSasol, a joint venture of the US’ ChevronTexaco Corporationand South Africa’s Sasol; and a consortium of South Africa’s Petro SAand Norway’s Statoil. The Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton has an option to join the Petro SA/Statoil team. The successful bidder will take an unspecified equity stake. Six companies submitted technical proposals, including the UK’s BPand Italy’s Eni.

‘We’ve been working with GTL for quite some years,’ says a shortlisted bidder. ‘The Algeria scheme has potential, but we still have to look at the economics of the project before we decide on our commercial bid. We will now go into a period of negotiations with Sonatrach.’

The project involves the development of oil and gas resources in the Tinhert basin, which has an estimated 150,000 million cubic metres of gas, the construction of a 36,000 barrel-a-day GTL facility, and the transportation of gas between the field and the plant. Construction work and field development will be carried out over a five-year period, followed by a 25-year production phase.

The contract will be the first to be signed under the new hydrocarbons law, which was formally introduced at the end of July (MEED 8:4:05, Cover Story).