Saudi utility sees 10-month power delay from Ras Al Khair

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Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) expects the start up of a new power plant at Ras Al Khair to be delayed until late 2013, the head of the utility said, which may affect production at a new aluminium smelter relying on it.

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) expects to begin production at the aluminium smelter it shares with US-based Alcoa in December.

The smelter is supposed to be supplied by the new 2,400-megawatt (MW) power plant which was expected to have started production by now.

"First production of electricity was supposed to be in October 2012... We are anticipating a ten-month delay," the head of SWCC Abdulrahman Mohammed al-Ibrahim said on Monday.

"To overcome this delay SWCC has taken the responsibility to provide power to the grid in excess of 450 MW to meet client demand," he said.

Saudi Arabia's Al Arrab Contracting Co and China's Sepco III Electric Power Construction Corp. are building the power plant on the Gulf coast.

Neither contractor was available for comment and Maaden did not respond to an email request for comment on the possible impact of the delay on operations at its new smelter.

Other parts of the project, including a seawater desalination plant, remain on schedule, Ibrahim said.

The Ras Al Khair complex will be able to remove salt from over 1m cubic metres of water a day, which will be distributed by SWCC.

Maaden has rights over 1,350 MW of the power plant's capacity and the other 1,050 MW has been allocated to Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC).

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