Bahrain inks GCC power grid contract
Manama, March 12, 2009
Bahrain became the second of the GCC countries to sign the general agreement for the regional power grid.
The agreement, signed after Saudi Arabia, enables Bahrain to exchange power with other member countries, Works Minister Fahmi Al Jowder, who is also the Minister in charge of Electricity and Water Authority said.
It will now be eligible to get 10 per cent of the nearly 5,000MW 'floating power capacity' available in the region, he said.
'This would happen once all the GCC member nations in the interconnection plan sign the agreement and the first phase of the grid goes online in May,' said Mr Al Jowder.
'Bahrain and other GCC nations will now greatly benefit since they can draw the reserve power from the grid in times of emergency, thus eliminating any shortages in the future.
'It would then be able to import 600MW per day when needed and up to 1,200MW during emergencies.'
Electricity and Water Authority chief executive Dr Abdulmajeed Al Awadhi said that the general agreement signed yesterday would be followed by the Power Exchange Trade Agreement (Peta) on April 2, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Dr Al Awadhi said Bahrain had already paid $134 million (BD50.6 million) as its $1.2 billion share of the cost of the project, with the involvement of other GCC countries, excluding the UAE and Oman.
'The total bill will go up to $1.5bn when these two nations also formally sign up,' he said.
GCC Interconnection Authority board secretary Dr Abdulmajeed Habib said the first phase would be inaugurated by the GCC heads of state, who will meet in Saudi Arabia in May.
'It includes the connection of Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the GCC North Grid,' he said.
Dr Habib said another project, connecting the UAE and Oman, called the South Grid, had already been completed, but is not yet in use.
'The final phase, which will include the connection of the south and north grids, will be completed next year,' he said.
'Once the general agreement is signed, the member states will establish various committees.'
Dr Habib said these would include advisory, regulatory, planning and operations committees.
He said the Peta, once signed, would define the buying and selling terms between the member countries.
The interconnection project is being undertaken by Italian-Norwegian joint venture Prysmian-Nexans, which has awarded a sub-contract for laying land cables on the Bahrain side to Alkomed Engineering.
Five kilometres of land cables are being laid from the landing point of King Fahad Causeway on the Bahrain side up to Al Jasra sub-station, which will be the first one in Bahrain to be rated at 400kv, equipped to connect to the GCC grid.-TradeArabia News Service