Case studies

Algeria flag El Merk Central Processing Facility, Algeria

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Scope: engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and start-up, followed by operations and maintenance support

Partners: Sonatrach, Anadarko, Maersk Oil, Eni, ConocoPhillips and Talisman (Algeria) BV

Location: Berkine Basin, Algeria

Project value: US$2.3 billion

Project summary


Start date


End date

The El Merk Central Processing Facility (CPF) is considered the ‘jewel’ of the Algerian desert. The site is operated by Groupement Berkine, a joint venture of Sonatrach and the Anadarko Association (comprising Anadarko, Maersk Oil and Eni) on behalf of themselves and the other El Merk partners ConocoPhillips and Talisman (Algeria).

Petrofac was awarded a contract to build the CPF in 2009. Valued at US$2.3 billion, the contract included the engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and start-up of the installation.

The CPF consists of:

  • Utilities
  • Inlet separation
  • Two oil trains
  • Associated gas compressors
  • Natural gas liquids
  • Injection gas units

Site purpose

The site was developed to build the surface facilities needed for the exploitation of hydrocarbon liquid reserves from reservoirs in Blocks 208 and 405a in Algeria. The project is located in Block 208, 90 km south of the Sonatrach/Anadarko-operated Hassi Berkine South facility and more than 1,000 km from the coast.

El Merk serves as the production hub for the region, processing an estimated:

  • 98,000 barrels of oil per day
  • 29,000 barrels of condensate per day
  • 31,000 barrels of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per day
  • Together with a natural liquids gas (NGL) train with a nominal capacity of 600 million standard cubic feet per day

The CPF also has the ability to process 500 million standard cubic feet of residue, compressed gas re-injection and approximately 80,000 barrels per day of produced water treatment and re-injection facilities.

Performance highlights

  • First oil was achieved on 15 March 2013
  • The gas dehydration and compression related to oil train 1 was initiated in May 2013
  • The performance test with gas injection was completed successfully ahead of schedule
  • 25 million man-hours without a lost-time incident (LTI)

During construction, more than 1,000 km of electrical cable was laid, along with 1,200 km of instrument cabling, and 225 km of telecom cabling.

At peak, there were more than 8,000 workers on site at six different camps. The workforce was 90% Algerian workers, with the remaining 10% comprising 40 different nationalities.

Operations and maintenance

Following the completion of the EPCC scope, Petrofac provided continued operations and maintenance services whilst developing the local workforce. This scope lasted for two years.

Our work in the local community

As part of our commitment to community investment and the development of local skilled workforces, we established a craft training centre at El Merk to qualify local high school graduates in five construction-related work activities – welding, electrical, instrumentation, piping and mechanical fit up.

This initiative was a great success; the programme trained and qualified approximately 75 people every three months.

The project achieved 25 million man-hours without an LTI, and received numerous awards from our client recognising this achievement to be world class. This was a mega project for Petrofac and proof that we can perform in the most challenging of conditions.

George Salibi, Chief Operating Officer – E&C