TAIPEI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has approved a consortium of government-controlled Taiwanese firms to bid for the right to build a power plant and desalination facility valued at $3 billion, the island’s economics ministry said on Tuesday.
The project would include construction of an oil-fired power plant with installed capacity of 850-1,100 megawatts (MW) and a desalination plant capable of processing 264 million gallons (1.2 billion litres) of water per day, Taiwan’s economics ministry said.
The government-run firms that will jointly bid for the project include Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), Taiwan Water Corp and Taiwan Cogeneration Corp, the ministry said.
A winning bidder will be announced in February, with construction expected to begin in October 2008, said an official from the ministry. The plants, to be located on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, should begin operations by December 2011, the official added.
Despite being the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has struggled to supply enough electricity to meet soaring demand to feed its fast growing economy driven by high crude prices.
Last year Saudis suffered reduced power supplies during the peak summer months, while water shortages have been blamed on reckless consumption and poor piping in the desert kingdom of 24 million people.
Local media reported the investment could be worth $3 billion and quoted deputy economics Minister Hsieh Fadah as saying the project has attracted the interest of other major regional players such as Korea Electric Power Corp and Japan’s