Gulf Arab states are pushing ahead with landmark plans to connect their electricity networks and the initial stage of the project is expected to be completed on time next year, reported the GCC.
The $1.6-billion (Dh5.87bn) venture, which was launched more than six years ago, will bring substantial benefits to the six Gulf Co-operation Council nations by offering huge savings, ensuring sufficient power supplies, and ruling out any disruption, the Riyadh-based GCC Secretariat said in its latest quarterly bulletin.
To ensure the success of such a mega project, the six nations have also agreed to create an electricity and water database, which has been put online and is undergoing development, it said.
“The first stage of the project is expected to be completed early next year. This stage covers the networks of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar,” it said.
“More than 30 per cent of this project was completed by the end of the first half of 2007 and work is under way to link the UAE and Oman before launching the third phase which involves linking all member states. The three stages of the project are expected to be fully operational in 2010.”
GCC heads of state approved the common grid plan at their summit in Kuwait in 1997 and it was launched nearly four years later. The Dammam-based GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) is overseeing the project, which officials expect to result in a 50 per cent reduction in operational reserves and slash costs of power projects in the region in the long term.
The first phase includes the interconnection of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar , which is known as the GCC North Grid. The second phase will include the introduction of independent systems in the UAE and Oman, dubbed the South Grid, which the GCCIA is not involved in.
The third phase includes the interconnection of the South and North Grid, which completes the interconnection of all six GCC countries. According to GCCIA, each member state would be able to import up to the value of its interconnection size, which for Bahrain is 600 megawatts (MW) per day.
For the UAE it is 900MW, for Saudi Arabia 1,200MW, for Oman 400MW, for Qatar 750MW and for Kuwait 1,200MW.
The UAE owns 15.4 of the project, while 31.6 per cent is owned by Saudi Arabia, 26.7 per cent by Kuwait, 11.7 per cent by Qatar, nine per cent by Bahrain and 5.6 per cent by Oman.
“The GCC power grid will reduce high long-term investment costs in the construction of power plants by reducing the level of reserves needed in each country,” the GCC Secretariat said.
“It will provide countries with an alternative source for operating reserves and support during emergencies. It will diversify the available sources of energy supplies by increasing system reliability through the import of different energy sources. It will also upgrade the economic efficiency of power systems and improve the security of power supplies.”