The government has emphasised that it is keen for the Al-Samra project to go ahead as quickly as possible despite the withdrawal of Tractebel, as the plant is intended to come on stream in 2005, in time for the first deliveries of gas from the Egypt-Jordan transmission line. Bids are due on 30 April, selection of a preferred bidder is expected in June, the signing of a power purchase agreement in September and financial close in December.

Despite the tight tendering schedule, there is a certain amount of flexibility in the project specifications. Bidders have been asked to quote for a 300-MW plant as well as the 450-MW option quoted in the original tender documents.

With demand expected to grow by 4.5-6.5 per cent a year over the next decade, the government plans to provide additional capacity of 100 MW in 2003, 100 MW in 2004, 450 MW in 2005 and 300 MW in 2008. Following the establishment of a regulatory commission for the power sector last year, a new law providing the framework for private sector investment is expected to be issued this year.