Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has prequalified at least 11 contractors to bid for the construction of the planned Ras al-Zour power and desalination plant.

The utility has so far prequalified at least seven companies for the power portion of the project.

They are France’s Alstom, Germany’s Siemens, the local Arabian Bemco Contracting Company, and South Korean firms Daelim, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

The prequalification process is ongoing, however, and other contractors including South Korean companies Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Engineering & Construction and Samsung Engineering are still trying to make the list.

SWCC has asked these last companies to submit supplementary prequalification documents.

According to project sources, at least four groups have also successfully prequalified for the desalination portion of the scheme. They are Doosan, France’s Sidem, Arabian Bemco with Italy’s Fisia Italimpianti, and Japan’s Hitachi Zosen.

Prequalified contractors have been able to purchase the tender documents for the project since 5 December and SWCC has not set a cut-off date for prequalification.

Contractors say the client has imposed difficult qualification criteria, which is prolonging the process.  

“The criteria for qualification are extremely strict and a lot of companies have been disqualified,” says one contractor.

According to project sources, the size and complexity of the Ras al-Zour scheme could deter some contractors from bidding.

The combined-cycle power plant will have capacity of 2,400MW. The desalination plant will have capacity of 226 million gallons a day (g/d) of water and will use thermal and reverse osmosis technology.

Several prequalified companies are still considering whether to commit resources to the project and have yet to buy the tender documents, which alone cost SR200,000 ($53,000).

The bid deadline is 20 March, but contractors say this may be an unrealistic target as companies are still prequalifying. “It’s impossible,” says another contractor. “On a normal bid, we would ask for four months to prepare our offer.”

Saudi Electricity will take 1,050MW of the plant’s power output and SWCC will take 220 million g/d of desalinated water.

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) will also receive 1,350MW of power and 6 million g/d of water from the plant.