‘The Israeli government is not opposed to the scheme, so the project and the people working on site are safe,’ Samir Shawwa, PEC’s managing director told MEED on 5 December. ‘All the turbines have been installed and we are optimistic that commissioning of the first phase can take place in mid-January.’

Shawwa stressed that Enron’s decision in early December to file for Chapter 11 will have no impact on the plant’s start-up. ‘We are not affected by Enron’s bankruptcy because the company’s subsidiary in charge of business activities in the Middle East and the Palestinian areas remains solvent,’ he said. ‘There are no worries for us.’

Industry sources say, however, that Enron is considering selling its 33 per cent stake in PEC to a strategic investor with operation and maintenance experience. It is understood that initial talks have been held with several European companies.

Local and international contractors are now undertaking the final tests on the 140-MW power plant, which comprises four 24-MW gas turbines and two 22-MW steam turbines. It is the first IPP in Gaza and the West Bank.

Other shareholders in PEC are Amman-based Arab Bank, Palestine Development & Investment Company (Padico), Palestine Services Company, Arab Palestinian Investment Companyand Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC).