May 7 (Reuters) - Non-OPEC producer Bahrain plans to award a contract to build its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal by year-end, Bahrain's energy minister said on Monday.
Speaking duruing the Middle East Petroleum & Gas Conference (MPGC) in Bahrain, Abdul Hussein bin Ali Mirza said there were nine bids. He estimated the project would cost between $300 million and $1 billion depending on which bid wins.
"The terminal will not be ready before the end of 2014 or early 2015," he added.
Bahrain, like its Gulf Arab neighbours, has seen a rapid increase in natural gas consumption as its economy has grown alongside a petrodollar-fuelled boom in the region.
The completion of the terminal would allow the tiny island kingdom to import LNG for domestic use and create opportunities for other nations to boost exports.
Last year, Mirza named Royal Dutch Shell as one of the contract bidders.
He had said other oil majors participated in the bidding process to build the LNG import terminal in the tiny country, which sits between the world's biggest crude oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and leading LNG exporter Qatar.
In March, Mirza said talks were under way to import an average of 400 million cubic feet gas per day (cfd) from Russia's Gazprom once the terminal is complete.
He said there was no need to rush talks with Gazprom because the kingdom was looking at buying spot cargoes to fill demand gaps.
"We have many other parties interested in supplying us with gas if we need it," said Mirza, declining to give details.
The kingdom's gas import plans have long been hampered by political tension with regional producers Qatar and Iran, and a looming gas shortage threatens the Gulf island's growth. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by David Hulmes)