The programme is expected to include four or five IPPs – each with capacity of up to 250 MW – which will provide electricity and steam to planned Aramco refinery projects. The facilities are to be built at Berri, Ras Tanoura, Uthmaniya and Hawiyah. The optional fifth plant would be at Shedgum.

About 45 international developers were requested to prequalify for the programme and between 10 and 20 have responded. Requests for proposals are scheduled to be issued by the end of the year and a preferred bidder is scheduled to be selected by the summer of next year. It is understood that local companies will have the opportunity to partner with international developers on the projects.

Aramco has not irrevocably committed itself to the private power path. Contractors have also been invited to look at the projects from the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) perspective.

It is understood that BNP Paribas won the financial advisory mandate in the face of stiff competition from HSBC Investment Bank.