May 19, 2012 / 3:31 PM / 8 years ago

Iraq considers bids for $1 bln power plant

BAGHDAD, May 19 (Reuters) - Iraq announced on Saturday the names of foreign companies bidding to build a 1,500 megawatt (MW) power plant with a value of around $1 billion in western Iraq, part of a drive to improve creaking infrastructure hit by sanctions and war.

The bids were from South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Italy’s Saipem, Greek power plant builder Metka, Turkey’s Gama, and a consortium of Turkey’s Calik Enerji and Italy’s Techint, Salam Qazaz, deputy minister of electricity, told Reuters.

The plant will consist of six units: four gas units and two thermal units, Qazaz said. It is due to be completed in 33 months, the ministry said.

Iraq needs investment in most of its industries after years of war and economic decline during sanctions against former dictator Saddam Hussein. In a country where temperatures can top 50 degrees Celsius in summer, power generation is crucial.

The national grid supplies only a few hours of power a day to Iraqis, forcing many to rely heavily on private generators. Sporadic electricity supply, one of the public’s top complaints, was at the heart of anti-government protests last year.

The ministry said this month it plans to double its electricity supply to 12,330 MW by 2013 as it brings new sources of power online.

Total power supply, currently at 6,000 MW, is expected to reach 9,000 MW in July and 9,600 MW in August, the electricity ministry said in a statement. By December, it aims for capacity up at around 10,400 MW and to 12,330 MW in April 2013.

Last year, the oil-producing nation managed to supply less than half of demand, which peaked at 15,000 MW.

Iraq has signed a series of projects, ranging from gas to thermal power plants, with mainly foreign firms, which are expected to help it reach these targets. (Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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