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Wed 1 Jul 2009 10:12 AM

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Saudi to spend $28bn on ailing electricity network

Kingdom to invest huge amounts over next three years to meet rising power demands.

Saudi Electricity Co is planning to spend $28bn in the next three years to meet the Kingdom’s rising power demands.

The Riyadh-based utility firm is also due to invest a further $70bn by 2018 to add an extra 25,000 megawatts to the struggling electricity network.

“We already have major projects under construction now,” Ali Al Barrak, chief executive officer, told Bloomberg. “This is to add about 13,000 megawatts of power and the required transmission distribution system.”

Saudi’s population has tripled in the last 30 years and is expected to continue growing at a rate of 2 percent a year, according to figures by HSBC Holdings.

The country’s electricity power needs have also grown at a tremendous rate and power cuts are common in many cities, especially during the summer months.

Electricity consumption is estimated to quadruple to 140 gigawatts a year by 2032, according to figures by the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

In June, Saudi Electricity raised more than SAR7bn ($1.87bn) from an Islamic bond sale and a SAR4.1bn loan from the Export-Import Bank of the US and Export Development Canada to add 2,900 megawatts of power generation.

“We are diversifying our financial resources,” Al Barrak said. “Financing is a bit of a challenge for the company, but we will have different ways to finance future projects.”

The firm is due to announce next week the closing of financing for the SAR10bn Rabigh steam powered plant, Al Barrak said.

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