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Tue 24 May 2011 01:48 PM

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Oman sees Sur plant adding 2,000MW capacity

Gulf state struggling to meet surge in power demands on national grid

Oman sees Sur plant adding 2,000MW capacity
POWER PLANS: The Sur project will add 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts of additional generating capacity by 2014 (Getty Images)

Oman
will award a contract “very soon” for construction of the planned Sur Power
Plant as it struggles to meet a projected nine percent annual increase in
electricity demand, the head of the utilities authority said.

The
economy of Oman, the largest oil producer in the Gulf that isn’t a member of
OPEC, has expanded at a rapid and accelerating rate over the last decade,
Mohammed Abdullah al-Mahrouqi, chairman of the public authority for electricity
and water, said.

“This
economic growth has been combined with a substantial increase in demand for
both electricity and water,” he told the Oman Power and Water Summit.

The
Sur project will add 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts of additional generating capacity
by 2014, Alan Davies, manager of strategic studies for Oman Power and Water
Procurement Co, said at the conference. An early stage of the plant may add
400MW of power to the country’s grid by 2013, he said.

Oman,
like its Gulf neighbors the UAE and Kuwait, faces a challenge trying to meet
surging demand for power given the limited availability of natural gas to use
as fuel in generating plants. Oman’s gas reserves rank seventh in size in the
Middle East, according to BP. The country’s electricity consumption peaked at a
record 3,900MW on May 21, 10 percent higher than peak demand in 2010 and in
excess of its installed generating capacity, John Cunneen, executive director
of the Authority for Electricity Regulation, said Monday.

Omanis
used reserve diesel generators to make up for shortfalls on the national grid,
and the authority doesn’t expect blackouts to be a problem this summer, Cunneen
said.

Oman
will have sufficient gas to supply the Sur plant, Bob Whitelaw, Oman Power and
Water Procurement’s chief executive officer, said today. The country, which
imports gas from Qatar through a pipeline, is looking at alternatives for
producing power in the future, including coal, nuclear energy and seaborne
imports of liquefied natural gas, Whitelaw said.

Marubeni
and Mitsui & Co are among five bidders seeking to build the Sur plant,
Ahmed al-Busaidi of Oman Power and Water Procurement said in Dubai on May 16.

Oman
plans to add 700MW of generating capacity by next year with the start of phase
1 of the Baka 3 and Sohar 2 plants, Cunneen said yesterday.

Oman
also wants to raise output of fresh water and plans to seek bids in the fourth
quarter of this year for the construction of the planned 42 million-gallon
Gubrah desalination plant, al-Mahrouqi said.

 

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