State-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) has entered into talks with French oil major Total over plans to expand the Laffan Refinery in the north of the country.

Few details have been released about the discussions, which are said to be at an advanced stage. The 140,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery started production in September 2009 and is Qatar’s first to process condensates. The proposed expansion would make it one of the largest condensate refineries in the world.

“We are currently in discussion with QP on the project. We hope the decision could be taken on the additional phase next year,” says Stephane Michel, Total Exploration & Production Qatar’s managing director, the local Gulf Times reports.

The French oil major already has a 10 per cent stake in the Laffan Refinery Company joint venture, along with QP, the US’ ExxonMobil and four Japanese firms: Cosmo Oil; Idemitsu; Marubeni Corporation; and Mitsui.

QP has previously considered a second phase for the refinery. France’s Technip is currently working on the front-end engineering and design (feed), which is expected to be completed in early 2012.

It is unclear if Total would be involved in the second phase, however.

Bids for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the facility could be launched in the second half of the year, with completion slated for 2016.

The scheme will enable the complex to process 147,000 b/d of condensate from the North field into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), naphtha, kerosene and gasoil.