Morocco expects to shortlist three companies for its new long-term contracts to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) within the next two weeks, its energy minister said on Oct. 6.

Morocco is evaluating offers from Royal Dutch Shell as well as French, Spanish and American companies, and plans to import 2 million tonnes of LNG a year starting in 2020 as part of the first phase of its LNG import plan, Abdelkader Amara told reporters in Dubai.

"In the first phase it will be 2 million tonnes, and the second step will be from 3.5 to 4 million tonnes," Amara said.

"Yes Shell made an offer and there are also (companies) from France, from Britain, from Spain and the U.S.... in two weeks we will evaluate the offers and take a decision. It is likely we will have three suppliers," he said.

Morocco has launched an international tender seeking advisers for its LNG imports plan, worth up to $4.6 billion and including the import of up to 7 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas by 2025, the construction of a jetty, terminal, pipelines and gas-fired power plants.

Morocco, a net energy importer, aims to diversify energy supplies and reduce its dependence on oil and coal imports. It is also developing a plan to build 4 gigawatts of renewable energy.

It has started negotiations to secure its imports with exporting countries --including Qatar and Russia -- and private companies, Amara told Reuters earlier this year.

The kingdom is already burning 1 bcm of gas annually, including around 70 million produced locally. Gas is still only 5 percent of the country's energy bill.