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First phase of GCC power grid complete

Jul 27, 2009 - Muhammad Humaidan - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

The first phase of a joint power grid for Gulf Cooperation Council countries was completed Sunday with the linking of the grids of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The United Arab Emirates and Oman will link to the grid in 2011, Yusuf Janahi, chairman of the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA), which is supervising the project, told Arab News. The six GCC countries, which gave the go-ahead for the power grid in 2004 after the project was declared technically feasible, hope that the $1.4 billion venture will help them meet rapidly rising power demand and avoid power outages.

"With the successful linking of the electricity grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, the member countries are close to achieving their goal of having a joint power grid for all six member states. The grid aims at guaranteeing an adequate supply of power even in emergencies and also reducing the cost of power generation in member countries. There will of course be other economic gains," Janahi said.

Various stages of the linking operation included the completion of the interconnection of the Qatar grid with Kuwait on July 20 and the commissioning of the first cycle of undersea cable between Bahrain and the main grid of GCCIA on July 21, Janahi said.

The first phase also included a double-circuit 400kV, 50Hz line from Al-Zour in Kuwait to Ghunan in Saudi Arabia with an intermediate connection at Fadhili in the Kingdom and associated substations and a back-to-back HVDC interconnection to the 380kV, 60Hz system at Fadhili. A double circuit 400kV comprises overhead lines and a submarine link from Ghunan to Al-Jasra in Bahrain and associated substations.

"Now the work on the interconnection between the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman is under way and is scheduled to be completed in 2011," Janahi added.

The resulting two mega-grids will be joined in the final phase.

Janahi said that the formal inauguration of the GCC grid is scheduled for December when the 30th session of the Supreme Council of the GCC meets in Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia offered to meet 40 percent of the cost of the first phase while Kuwait provided 36.5 percent, Qatar 13.5 percent and Bahrain 10 percent, according to an earlier report.