Iraq unveils contracts to install 24 gas turbines
Baghdad, October 2, 2009
Iraq's Electricity Ministry has unveiled plans to offer contracts to local and foreign utility firms for the installation of 24 gas turbines that it hopes will end the country's chronic power cuts by 2012.
Iraq is ramping up efforts to meet a deep shortfall in its power supply, a chief complaint of many Iraqis as the sectarian violence that killed thousands of them fades and the country enjoys its best security in years.
"We are happy to present our plan to implement power production stations," Raad Al-Haris, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, said at a conference in the capital of Iraq's peaceful semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Arbil.
"We promise to present all the support and facilities you want," he added, without disclosing the value of the contracts.
The total increase in capacity achieved is expected to be around 3,870 MW, according to Iraqi officials.
Six and half years after a US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains beset by power blackouts and a dilapidated capacity that provides only a few hours of electricity per day.
It has signed multi-billion dollar deals for gas turbines with GE and Siemens, to get 56 turbines from GE and 16 turbines from Siemens, which the ministry says will add 12,000 MW of capacity over the next few years.
"If these projects (the 24 turbines to be installed) from GE and Siemens are finished, we are expecting the power cut to end by the close of 2011," Al-Haris told Reuters.
Financial problems have held things up but the ministry has since borrowed $2.4 billion from an Iraqi state bank and paid $1.9 billion of it to GE and Siemens, the second instalment of a due payment.
The other $500 million from the loan will pay for the initial phase of the turbine instalments, for which Iraq is seeking diverse expertise.
Salam Qazzaz, Iraq's other deputy electricity minister, said around 50 Iraqi and foreign firms had attended the conference. They included Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries, Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), China's CMEC, India's Lanco Infratech, US-based private operator North Shore International Inc, two Canadian and several Turkish and Middle Eastern companies.
Many company bosses said they felt more confident about security in Iraq than before.
"I think the security is OK, otherwise we would not be here," said Bai Chuandong, deputy general manager of CMEC.
Iraq's current electricity capacity is put at around 7,500 MW, compared with an estimated demand of roughly 12,000 MW.
The turbines will be installed in seven locations across Iraq, said Raad Zalzala, deputy director general of planning for the ministry. Four 125 megawatt turbines will be installed in each of Diwaniya and Samawa in the south.
Eight 125 megawatt turbines are planned for two places in Baghdad. The southern oil hub of Basra will get five turbines and northern Kirkuk province one, with 270 megawatts each.
Mosul city, in the north, will get two turbines with 125 megawatts of capacity each. - Reuters