The potential delay is due to a late technical survey of the site for the plant, which could result in the deadline being put back until early 2010.

The bid deadline for the $500m contract is currently 28 October.

“Due to Ramadan and Eid, some of the technical studies have been delayed, which will have a knock-on effect on the date [by which] we can expect bidders to submit their final bids,” says one adviser to the Finance Ministry.

Ten bidding groups met with Bahrain’s Works Ministry in July. However, sources working for the bidding groups expect them to consolidate. “It is a difficult market to get financing and bids have to be fully underwritten, so this is putting pressure on the bidders even though the project is smaller than some of the other projects in the region,” says one banker considering the deal.

The Finance Ministry is asking bidders for 100 per cent committed financing, but has stipulated that consortiums can only ask up to four banks to promise to lend to their bid exclusively. This is to ensure that there are enough banks to finance several bids.

However, because of the constrained financing market and the complicated nature of the project, the bidders expect only five groups to proceed with bids.