Bahrain to plug into GCC grid in 10 days
Manama, July 8, 2009
Bahrain will plug into the $1.1 billion (BD400 million) GCC electricity network in the next 10 days, said a top Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) official.
It will not only make power cuts a thing of the past, but will also lead to a drop in costs, said EWA chief executive officer Dr Abdul Majeed Al Awadhi.
'This revolutionary agreement is expected to expand the electricity network and reduce the cost of power generation in the GCC states drastically,' said Dr Al Awadhi.
'It will help Gulf states exchange electricity to meet growing needs, utilise their surplus output, save money on new projects and ensure uninterrupted supply.
'The agreement will include the terms and conditions of such an exchange.'
Bahrain yesterday (July 7) became the fourth country to join the network after Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
It could be connected by July 17, but full commissioning is expected to take a few more days.
'This is certainly a new era in economic integration and co-operation in the power sector among the GCC states,' added Dr Al Awadhi after signing the deal in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, yesterday.
Bahrain has signed two agreements - one governing relations among countries linked to the grid and another on power exchange and trading.
Once all countries are connected, any GCC state suffering a sudden disruption in its power supply will be able to dip into those of its neighbours.
'Another thing is that one member with surplus power, could lease part of its network to another with a deficit or sudden shortage,' added Dr Al Awadhi.
The project is also expected to save money because member countries will have to construct fewer power stations as a result.
'This historic project is critical for the energy needs of the GCC, which is witnessing rapid growth in power consumption as a result of economic expansion and high population growth,' added Dr Al Awadhi.
'The region's estimated electricity growth is between eight and 10 per cent annually - one of the highest rates in the world.'
The power grid project was launched nearly seven years after being approved by GCC heads of state in the mid-1990s.
It was overseen by the GCC Interconnection Authority based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain signed an agreement in March enabling it to import up to 600MW a day from the grid, or up to 1,200MW during emergencies.
The country has so far paid BD50.6 million ($134 million) towards its BD452 million ($1.2 billion) bill for joining the grid.
The interconnection project is being undertaken by Italian-Norwegian joint venture Prysmian-Nexans, which has awarded a subcontract for laying land cables in Bahrain to Alkomed Engineering.
Five kilometres of land cables are being laid from the landing point of King Fahad Causeway on the Bahrain coast, to a substation in Jasra. – TradeArabia News Service