French engineering firm Alstom Power has been awarded a $300.4 million contract to complete the second phase of Bahrain’s Al Hidd plant for electricity and water production. News of the award was reported yesterday in the Bahrain Tribune newspaper, following the weekly Cabinet session chaired by the Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

The Al Hidd gas fired power and desalination plant is Bahrain’s largest power and water production facility and is located on Muharraq Island. Phase One of the Al Hidd facility was built in 1999 and produces 280 MW of power and 136 million litres of desalinated water per day to meet the rapidly increasing power and water demand, using reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly technology. The final phase will see the production of 700 MW of power and 409 million litres of desalinated water per day by 2004.

The enlarged power plant is part of the country’s programme aimed at increasing electricity and fresh water production to meet the demands of an increasing population.

Bahrain currently has an electric generating capacity of 1.5 GW, and produced 4.7 bn kWh in 1998. Driven by population growth, Bahrain’s electric power consumption is growing at an annual rate of around 5 per cent. Recent capacity expansion has centred on the Hidd power project.

Another priority is improving the country’s transmission and distribution infrastructure. Contracts totalling about $60 million were awarded to several foreign firms including Alstom, ABB, Fuji Electric and Marubeni in March 2000 for upgrade work.