Bids from SNC Lavalinof Canada, Sofresidof France, Germany’s Siemensand Iberdrolaof Spain were opened in Algiers on 25 January. AEC expects to call for commercial offers in April-May and plans to award the contract shortly afterwards. The plant is due to come on stream in the last quarter of 2005.

The four bidders have a wide variety of experience in Algeria. SNC Lavalin has worked on emergency water projects while Iberdrola last year signed an agreement to lift 1 billion cubic metres a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a 15-year period.

The final legal and administrative preparations are under way for the establishment of SPC, and the company will be officially inaugurated in February. SPC will be a joint venture between state power company Sonelgaz, which will have a 50 per cent stake in the company, AEC, with 30 per cent, and state energy company Sonatrach, with the remaining 20 per cent stake.

The Skikda plant forms part of Algeria’s ambitious power and water generation programme, requiring investment of $4,000 million-5,000 million by 2010. Other projects under way include the independent water and power plant (IWPP) at Arzew, which is being developed by a consortium led by US-based Black & Veatch and including AEC.

AEC is also developing a desalination plant in the Algiers suburb of Hamma. Up to eight companies are understood to be preparing to bid by the revised 17 March closing date (MEED 20:12:02).