The company’s chief executive Jean Francois Cirelli told reporters in Egypt that GDF intends to develop a production capacity of some 2,000 megawatts, a sizeable increase on its current 800 megawatts.

Mr Cirelli said that the two new construction projects were currently being assessed, but that he hoped a final decision on the first of the two plants would be reached in 2006. Two possible locations are being evaluated, at Fos-sur-Mer in southern France, and Montoir de Bretagne in the west of the country.

Mr Cirelli was speaking at the official opening of a new natural gas liquefaction station near Alexandria, Egypt.