By Tom Daly
The $1.95bn six-country network should reduce the cost of power generation.
The power grid network linking each of the six GCC member states will be ready by 2010, according to Dr Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA).
The project, costing a total of US $1.95 billion, will reduce the cost of power generation for each of the countries and offer a channel for emergency assistance when needed.
The interconnection is being carried out in three phases. A GCCIA spokesman said that phase I, which will link Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, is currently ongoing and should be completed by the first quarter of 2009. Phase II has already connected Oman to the UAE.
Once the grid is ready, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will each receive an extra 1200 MW of power capacity, the UAE will receive 900 MW, Qatar 750 MW, Bahrain 600 MW and Oman 450 MW. The GCCIA has forecast that the project will generate revenues of US $3.2 billion by 2028, through energy trading.
Waleed Ali Salman, director of electricity at the UAE's Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA), said the grid would bring "very big advantages" through increasing reliability and optimising the use of energy. He was, however, sceptical about the possibility of making a profit out of the project, in light of rising costs across the board, until energy trading with countries outside of the region becomes a possibility.
A study is currently being conducted with a view to connecting Saudi Arabia to Egypt, thus paving the way for a Pan-Arab grid.