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Qatar shortlists majors for potential NFE stake

State giant sends out invitations to bid to oil majors hopeful of participating in giant North Field Expansion LNG project

Qatar has shortlisted international oil majors for an envisaged stake sale in its ongoing expansion of the giant North field, state-owned Qatar Petroleum’s (QP) chief executive Saad Sherida al-Kaabi has said.

The QP boss told Reuters it sent out invitations to bid (ITB) last month to leading oil companies and is expected to finalise the results by first quarter of next year.

However, Kaabi added that Qatar might still choose to go alone unless the oil majors offer a significant value for its expansion project.

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"We like the partnership model for many benefits. But because we don't need the partners, what's going out is basically a set of criteria that we have, to demonstrate to us what added value we get for Qatar if you come in," Kaabi was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Maybe they can give us something outside," he added, referring to the international assets owned by the majors.

However, Kaabi did not elaborate on the percentage of stake that is likely to be offered and which companies have been selected by the state-owned giant.

Qatar aims to boost its LNG production from 77 million tonnes per annum to 110 million tpa over the next five years.

QP, through Qatargas, is carrying out the tender process for several key onshore as well as offshore engineering, procurement and construction packages for the North Field Expansion project.

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The onshore packages, which include the liquefaction facilities, storage tanks, utilities and sulphur handling facilities, are thought to be together worth upwards of $18 billion.

In April, QP issued tender documents to three short-listed consortia for work on the four 7.8 million tpa mega-trains for the giant expansion programme.

The tenders were issued to a consortium of Japan’s Chiyoda and UK-based TechnipFMC, another grouping of Japan’s JGC and South Korean giant Hyundai Engineering & Construction, and a third group comprising Saipem, McDermott International and Taiwan’s CTCI.

This tender package involves the EPC work for the four liquefaction trains with gas and liquid treatment facilities.

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In addition, the work on storage tanks, utilities and the sulphur-handling facilities is being tendered as separate packages, sources said.

QP has also launched a tender for potentially more than 100 new LNG carriers to support the North Field Expansion.

Kaabi told Reuters that QP's decision to self-finance the project and “drill appraisal wells before offering partners a chance to buy in” was part of its strategy to up the ante on what majors must now offer for the stake in the expansion project.

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