Leading power developers International Power, AES and Suez-Tractebel, which have already invested in major private-led power projects in Oman, are among seven firms pre-qualified to bid for a concession award linked to the development of a new independent water and power project (IWPP) at Barka.

The successful bidder will also acquire the assets of the Al Rusail Power Company which owns the existing 688MW plant at Rusail. Total investment in the new IWPP, coupled with the acquisition of the Rusail facility, is estimated at well over US$1bn. Also in the race for the prestigious project are Mitsubishi Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Sembcorp Utilities and Sojitz Corporation.

They were selected from among 18 international and local firms that submitted offers expressing their interest in bidding for the venture. The so-called Barka II facility will comprise 500MW of power generation capacity and 150,000 cubic metres per day of desalinated water production capacity.

Commercial operation of the new IWPP is slated for April 1, 2009, although it is likely that part of the power generation and water desalination capacities will be available from April 1, 2008.

The selected party will be awarded a concession covering the design, development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of the combined power and desalination plant, which will be built alongside the existing Phase 1 facility owed and operated by AES Barka. The new plant will have share the seawater intake and outfall facilities created for the first phase.

Acquisition of the Rusail power station will be effected by a decision of the government to offload its shares in Al Rusail Power Company in favour of the selected bidder. The Rusail facility, developed in several phases between 1984 and 2004, now features a total of eight gas-fired open cycle GE Frame gas turbines.

Al Rusail Power Company is the first of several government-owned ‘successor companies’, created as a result of the unbundling of the power and related water sector, that will be privatised over the coming years.

Next in line for privatisation are the Wadi Jizzi Power Company, which owns and operates the Wadi Jizzi power station, and Al Ghubrah Power Company, which runs the huge power and desalination plant at Bausher in Muscat Governorate.

The Tender Board, which is overseeing the competitive bidding process for Barka II on behalf of the ministry of national economy and the Oman Power & Water Procurement Company SAOC (PWP), has set March 27, 2005 as the deadline for the submission of technical and commercial offers.