GCC’s power grid set to start trial operations
Sep 30, 2008
DUBAI: The Gulf Co-operation Council
Interconnection Authority will start trial operations
by year-end of its $1.2bn electricity grid that
will connect Arab Gulf states and help meet the
region’s rising energy needs, an official said yesterday.
Phase one of the GCC interconnection
grid, which will ultimately link the power networks
of all six GCC states, will be fully operational
in the first quarter of 2009 once all tests have
been completed, Ahmed Ali Ebrahim, Gulf Co-operation
Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) director
for system operation and maintenance, told Zawya
“By the end of the year we will start
the trial operations, which will continue until
January 2009. We’re hoping that by the first quarter
of 2009 we will start normal operations,” Ebrahim
said in an interview.
The first phase of the project will
see the interconnection of four GCC states - Kuwait,
Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - with Oman and
the United Arab Emirates to be connected by the
end of 2010 in two subsequent phases.
The system is aimed at helping Gulf
states meet runaway electricity demand, which is
soaring on the back of an economic boom that has
seen billions of petrodollars flow into infrastructure,
tourism and real estate projects across the region.
Industry estimates put the amount
of investment needed for the GCC power and water
sectors at as much as $120bn over the next 10 years.
The grid will allow the transfer of
electricity between GCC states to utilize excess
capacity and limit the need for new investments
in additional power generation capacity, Ebrahim
The network will boost efficiency
and reliability by ensuring uninterrupted electricity
supplies, he added.
The project’s second phase, the connection
of the UAE and Oman, has already been completed,
with phase three, covering the construction of an
electrical substation and an overhead line in Abu
Dhabi emirate, under implementation, Ebrahim said.
As part of phase three, the GCCIA has awarded National
Contracting Company (NCC), of Saudi Arabia, an estimated
$70mn contract to build the overhead line from Sila
in western Abu Dhabi to the capital, he said.
A contract for the construction of
a substation at Sila is under tender and expected
to be awarded within a month, Ebrahim added. Both
contracts are set to be completed in the second
half of 2010, providing the grid’s final link. Once
up and running, the grid is set to pave the way
for the development of a regional energy market,
which in turn could lead to lower electricity prices,
“Once you have an energy market and
it will be an efficient energy market, we can see
prices go down,” he said, adding that this should
help reduce government subsidies for the regional
power sectors. The GCCIA is also in the final stages
of awarding a contract for the utilization of the
grid’s fiber optic cables for telecommunications
purposes, Ebrahim said. Under the plan, the authority
would lease cable capacity to telco providers to
generate additional revenues.
“We are discussing with serious companies
in the GCC communications market,” he said. “We
hope to finalise a deal before operations (of the
grid) start.” – Zawya Dow Jones