The bid deadlines for developers of the Shouaiba and Marafiq independent water and power projects (IWPPs) are expected to be extended by about six-eight weeks, sources close to both projects say. The current schedule sees bids in on Marafiq in mid-December and in mid-January for Shouaiba.

‘Developers have not been formally informed of the extension, but they have been lobbying for it and they know it is coming,’ says a Riyadh source. ‘The reason – predictably – is that developers are having some problems nailing down details with their EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] contractors. There are only a finite number of EPC players capable of doing the work on projects this size.’

On the Shouaiba deal, the expected bid from the consortium headed by the UK’s International Power (IP), alongside Saudi Ogerand Xenel Industries, both local, and Sumitomo Corporationand Mitsui & Company, both of Japan, is understood to have Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI)and Mitsui as the EPC contractors. The bid from Belgium’s Tractebel and the local Bugshan Groupis thought to have Italy’s Fisia Italimpianti and France’s Alstomon board.

The third bid, expected from Malaysia’s Tanaka National and Malakoffand the local Acwapower and Mada, includes Germany’s Siemens and South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Company (MEED 1:10:04).

For the potential bidders on the Marafiq deal, the IP, Saudi Oger and Sumitomo consortium has Doosan and Siemens tied in. Tractebel and Bugshan have the US’ General Electricand HHI. The Mitsui, Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco)and National Power Companyconsortium has Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in place.

In addition to the contractor bottleneck, the schedule has also been compromised by a financial bottleneck. ‘It is not so much a capacity issue at this stage, but more of a bureaucratic one: the involvement of ECAs [export credit agencies] is important but it can slow things down,’ says a banker looking at the deal.