Abu Dhabi and ConocoPhillips plan to award Dh36.8 billion ($10.02 billion) of contracts in the first half of 2010 to develop their Shah gas project, Emirati newspaper al-Ittihad reported on Monday.

State-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) said in February it expected to see first production from the joint-venture by late 2013 or early 2014. It is the first project the UAE has undertaken to exploit a sour gas field.

The field has a high content of potentially deadly sulphur dioxide, making it tougher to produce than conventional reserves.

The project would treat around 1 billion cubic feet of gas from Shah, and pump around 540 million cubic feet of processed gas per day into the UAE network.

The UAE holds the world’s fifth-largest gas reserves, but has failed to keep up with rising domestic demand.

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