The GCC Interconnection Authority will hold a ceremony this month to mark the formal launch of the first phase of the multi-billion dollar GCC power grid project in Kuwait.

The first phase of the $7bn power grid, which links Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar through 800 km of transmission lines, was commissioned on July 26. This phase was completed at a cost of $1.095bn.

The United Arab Emirates and Oman will hook up to the grid next year. The resulting two mega grids will be joined in the final phase in 2011. The power grid is expected to boost the electricity network and reduce the cost of generation in GCC region.

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Ten companies to compete in Egypt wind farm bid

In an effort to strengthen its alternative energy sources, the Egyptian government has established a short-list of ten bidders to build a wind farm.

The farm will have a capacity of 250 MW and is expected to be built on the Gulf of Suez.

El Sewedy Cables, as part of a consortium, is among the contenders. Orascom Construction, Enel Green Power SpA, and EDF are also in the running.

With this list now established, the bidders can compile their final bids, which they will each need to submit in the first quarter of 2011. This is in advance of 2014, when the plant is expected to be fully operational.

This project is part of a broader effort by the Egyptian government to increase the amount of energy it generates from renewable sources to 20 per cent by 2020.

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Saudi Arabia to construct 1 GW power and water plant

Saudi Arabia is setting up a mega water desalination and power generation plant for which it has already completed the bidding process.

Abdullah Al Hussayen, the Saudi minister of water and electricity said that the annual capacity of the desalination plant will be 1m cubic metres and the power plant will have a generation capacity of 1000 MW.

He expressed concerns about the increasing cost of desalinating water, which has gone up by more than 33 per cent recently.He said: “Of course, the global recession has something to do with it, but the trend is definitely not down.”

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Electricity minister urges envoys to attract investors to Iraq

Iraq’s minister of electricity Kareem Waheed has called on Iraqi ambassadors to encourage investors to play a bigger role in the country’s electricity sector.

“The minister urged the envoys to work as ambassadors for the Ministry of Electricity in the countries where they represent Iraq,” read the statement that was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Outlining several problems in his ministry, Waheed said the water shortage in the country and the security situation faced by the Defense Ministry have badly affected the performance of the Ministry of Electricity.

“Iraqi, Arab and foreign companies have been invited to implement the contract and to operate the generating units,” said the minister.

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India’s BHEL bags Iraq power plant order

BHEL of India has bagged an order worth $19.5m from Power Engineers Contracting Company, UK, to supply one state-of-the-art 42 MW (Frame 6B) gas turbine generating unit for Nasiryah power project in Iraq.

BHEL has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the company for supplying F9E gas turbine generators and steam turbine generators for future projects in the country.

For the current contract, the gas turbines and associated equipment are expected to be manufactured and supplied by BHEL’s Hyderabad plant and the state-of-the-art control system to be manufactured and supplied by its Electronics Division in Bangalore.

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Worley Parsons awarded Jordanian nuclear contract

An $11.3m contract will see Worley Parsons guide the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), with pre-construction consultancy services for a nuclear power plant.

As a pre-construction contract, its duration and scope of work cover the preparatory phases before the signing of contracts with a reactor vendor, anticipated to be around the end of 2012. Worley Parsons is to evaluate the nuclear power plant technology most suitable for Jordan. The Australian company will also conduct a feasibility study and financial assessment of the project.

Worley Parsons will also help establish the electric utility company to own and operate the plant. The JAEC has narrowed its choice to five reactor designs: AECL’s Candu-6, Areva’s EPR, Kepco’s APR-1400, and two Russian designs.

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Oman’s PDO issues tenders for steam and power plants

State-run Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has issued three tenders for the construction of steam production facilities and a power plant at the Amal crude oil field.

The first contract on offer is for the construction of processing facilities for feedwater, steam, oil and gas, along with their associated utilities. The second includes the installation of aquifer pumps and pipelines.

Companies interested in bidding have until 7 February 2010 to make submissions to PDO. The award date is scheduled to be in June 2010.

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First Energy Bank to build $1bn Saudi solar polysilicon plant

Bahrain’s First Energy Bank plans to build a $1bn polysilicon plant in Saudi Arabia with a local partner to cater for the rising regional investments in solar power.

Vahan Zanoyan, CEO of First Energy, an Islamic investment bank, said the project would cost $1bn, and be financed through a 40 per cent equity stake and 60 per cent debt. He added a portion of the debt would be provided by the Saudi government and the bank was in advanced talks with commercial banks to raise the remainder.

Zanoyan also said the project has signed an off-take agreement with US-based Vinmar International, covering most of the plant’s production capacity of 7500 tonnes per year. Production is scheduled to start in 2013.

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