Construction work should start on Abu Dhabi’s planned $2.2bn hydrogen power plant by the end of this year, according to senior executives involved in the project.

The 60:40 joint venture partners behind the scheme, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and the UK’s BP, prequalified international engineering firms to bid on construction contracts for the scheme in the final quarter of 2009. The shortlisted firms include Japan’s Chiyoda, the US’ Fluor, and Paris-based Technip.

In the wake of that, tenders are expected to issued in the near future, although financing arrangements have yet to be finalised.

“We are aiming to get construction under way this year,” says a senior Masdar executive. “Final financial decisions haven’t been taken yet because we haven’t got everything completely sorted out on the shareholder side.”

Senior executives at international engineering firms planning to bid for the contract say they expect to receive formal invitations to take part in a competitive tender before the end of January.

The US’ Foster Wheeler completed front end engineering and design (Feed) work on the scheme in June 2009, a senior source close to Masdar tells MEED.

The project will take 100 million cubic feet a day of natural gas provided by state energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and convert it into hydrogen which will then be used as fuel for the 420MW power plant.

Carbon dioxide produced as part of the process will be sold back to Adnoc, which will inject it into its oil and gas wells to increase and maintain reservoir pressure, which in turn will allow it to boost oil and gas production.

The project also includes a desalination unit, capable of processing 25 million gallons a day of water.

Engineering contractors in talks with Masdar expect the company to start the tender process for deals to build the pipelines linked to the plant, valued at $500m, before the end of 2010.

The plant, which is due to be complete by late 2014, is part of the wider Masdar Initiative to build a carbon-neutral city in the emirate, which Abu Dhabi says will generate 70,000 jobs and accommodate 40,000 residents by 2016.