KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, (Reuters) – The power grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain will be linked later this month, the body overseeing interconnection said on Tuesday.
Gulf Arab countries hope the $1.4 billion power connection project will help them meet rapidly rising power demand and avoid power outages.
The United Arab Emirates would hook up to the grid in 2011, the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) said in a statement. That was a year later than previously expected. Oman was also expected to join later.
The Gulf countries have little excess capacity to sell for now. They all have similar patterns of consumption, which sees demand peak in the summer as air coniditioners work on full throttle to counter soaring desert temperatures.
Kuwait has been in talks for months to buy power from Qatar through the grid. But Qatar has told Kuwait that it has no available electricity to sell, al-Watan newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The economies of the world’s top oil producing region have boomed on record oil revenues, leaving them struggling to supply the power needed for expansion.
Subsidised power across the region has encouraged rapid demand growth. Kuwait has one of the highest per capita power consumption rates in the world.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is experiencing outages of up to five hours a day in the industrial zone of Jeddah, the kingdom’s commercial hub.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a loose political and economic alliance between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.