Six firms win contracts to link electricity grids of Gulf states

3 September 2005 – Six companies have won 13 contracts worth over $1bn in total in the first phase of a project to link the electricity networks of six Gulf states.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members seeking to join up their electricity grids are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE.

The winning companies were selected by the board of directors of the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) which met on 1 Oct. in the Saudi city of Dammam, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The report did not list the names of the companies.

The first phase will link the grids of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait,according to the GCCIA. An 800-km-long 400kV overhead power line will link Kuwait with Doha and a 400kV underwater line will connect Saudi Arabia with Bahrain.

The project, which aims to facilitate the exchange of electricity, reduce the cost of power generation and ensure uninterrupted supply contains three phases. The contracts for the first phase cover the building of sub stations, back-to-back High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter stations, overhead transmission lines, submarine cables, and a control centre. That phase will be completed by 2008.

Saudi Arabia has offered to meet 40 per cent of the cost of the first phase, Kuwait is proposing 36.5 per cent, Qatar 13.5 per cent and Bahrain 10 per cent. The second phase of the project will link the UAE with Oman, and the resulting two-mega grids will be joined in the third and final phase. Speaking about the
economic viability of the project, Saleh Alawaji, GCCIA chairman and Saudi deputy minister for electricity affairs, said the investment was expected to pay for itself within four years. The six countries gave the green light for the grid last year after it was declared technically feasible.