MHI to power Saudi Arabian refining complex

A $1.1bn fuel oil fired cogeneration and desalination plant is to power one of the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemical complexes, which is to be built on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was awarded the engineering procurement and construction contract for the 380 MW Rabigh cogeneration and desalination plant, which will be built on a turnkey basis. Scheduled to enter commercial operation in June 2008, it will provide the energy for the production of 2.2 million tonnes of olefins annually along with significant volumes of other refined products.

Marubeni Corporation signed the contracts to develop the cogeneration and desalination plant with Saudi Arabian Oil Company and Sumitomo Chemical. Marubeni is leading a consortium that also includes JGC Corporation, Itochu Corporation and ACWA Power Projects.

ABB submits the bids to beat

ABB is reported to have submitted the lowest bids for many of the GCC electricity grid project contracts, due to be awarded at the end of October by the GCC Interconnection Authority.

The Middle Eastern authority is currently reviewing technical bids that were tendered by companies in June of this year. Details released show that ABB was the lowest bidder for all six substation contracts. The Swiss company also submitted the lowest bid for the control centre package ($33.9m) and the package to build the HVDC converter station ($189.9m). French firm Areva submitted the second lowest bid for both of the latter packages at $35m and $219m respectively.

Italy’s Pirelli and Japan’s Marubeni Corporation tendered the lowest bids for the contract to install 200 km of submarine cable for the project.

The GCC Interconnection project will link the power grids of Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Iran restarts uranium conversion

Iran has removed the voluntarily placed UN seals at its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and commenced with operations to develop its own nuclear fuel supply.

The move has caused concern in Europe and the US. EU leaders have been in negotiations with the Middle East country with the aim of convincing it to accept imported nuclear fuel along with economic incentives in return for giving up its uranium conversion programme.

Iran has long maintained that its intentions with uranium are peaceful and that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to produce its own fuel for nuclear power stations. Many nations are wary, however, following the revelation in 2002 that Iran hid most of its nuclear programme for nearly 20 years.

The chances of Iran being referred to the UN Security Council appear slim as it has yet to restart operations at the facility that enriches the converted uranium.

UES buys right to run in Armenia

Russia’s state owned electricity company, Unified Energy Systems (UES) has paid $73m for the right to manage the Armenian national grid company.

The move follows similar deals brokered in Georgia and Tajikistan and further highlights the company’s intentions to spread into the markets of former Soviet Republics.

UES struck the deal with the British firm, Midland Resources Holding, which purchased Electricity Networks of Armenia in 2002 for $37m, $25m of which was earmarked to pay off the grid company’s existing debts. The deal will see Midland retain ownership.

Analysts said that although the price paid by UES appeared to be high, the deal could give it the upper hand in a market that has yet to realise its full potential.

Pebble bed keeps company awake

The company responsible for developing the South African pebble bed modular reactor nuclear power plant has contracted SGL Carbon of Germany to provide graphite for testing.

The announcement followed an international report was presented to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs criticising the project as economically unviable. The cost of the project has risen from 2bn Rand ($309m) in 1999 to 14bn Rand.

Hungary feeds CHP demand

Babcock-Hitachi is to build a gas fired combined cycle power plant in northeast Hungary after it was awarded a €40m ($49m) contract from the E.ON subsidiary, NYKCE.

The 50 MW plant will provide power and district heating to the 115 000 strong population of Nyíregyháza as well as process steam for industry. It will use Hitachi’s H-25AX gas turbine.

News digest

Afghanistan: The Asian Development Bank has issued a $50m loan to finance imports of electricity to Afghanistan. Around half of the figure is interest free with the remainder granted with low return rates.

Azerbaijan: Siemens Power Generation is to build a $320m 500 MW combined cycle power plant in Azerbaijan that will be fired by natural gas.

Bahrain: The Finance Ministry has announced a shortlist that includes 15 companies from eight countries for the 1000 MW Hidd independent water and power project.

Bulgaria: Russia’s UES has been informed by a Bulgarian government commission that it will only be able to purchase one of two plants that it bid for in the country. The competition authority was concerned that UES would have too much market power.

Ethiopia: The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation is to spend over Birr10.1bn ($1.1bn) on improving electricity infrastructure in the current fiscal year.

Iraq: The majority of the Iranian government’s $1.1bn investment in Iraq will be spent on rebuilding the country’s energy infrastructure.

Kenya: Tanzania, Kenya and the Netherlands are to jointly fund an $111m transmission line project that will run between the two African nations to ease electricity supply fears in Kenya.

Lithuania: Alstom has been awarded a €27m ($33m) contract by Lietuvos Energija AB to modernize a 100 MW hydroelectric power plant that was built in the 1960s.

Oman: Bechtel is to build a power station as part of a $2.2bn aluminium smelter project in the north of the country that will also see the construction of a desalination plant as well as a port.

Qatar: Dresser-Rand has completed a full-load, full-pressure performance test of a Rolls-Royce Trent 60 DLE gas turbine to be used on the gas compression package for the Dolphin gas project.

Russia: Power Machines has been contracted by Mosenergo to supply its prototype GTE-65 gas turbine for a combined heat and power plant that will begin operation in 2007.

Russia: The mayor of Moscow has called for a new company to be set up to share management of the city’s power grid with the state owned power company UES.

Russia: Two Russian scientists have placed a $10 000 bet that the world will cool over the next decade. They will compare the average surface temperature between 1998 and 2003, with temperatures recorded between 2012 and 2017.