Oman’s tender board is expected to award the contract to build its planned Barka 3 and Sohar 2 independent power projects (IPPs) by 20 May.

The consortium led by France’s GDF Suez is expected to be named preferred bidder for both projects over rival bids from groups led by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power International for Barka 3, and Japan’s Marubeni for Sohar 2.

According to sources close to the project, Acwa Power International and Marubeni will remain reserve bidders until a letter of appointment is sent to the GDF Suez team.

GDF Suez’ consortium includes Yonden, a subsidiary of the Shikoku utility in Japan, Japanese investment firm Sojitz, and Oman’s Bahwan Engineering. US firm Chadbourne & Parke is legal adviser to GDF Suez in its bid.

Germany’s Bayern LB, France’s Credit Agricole CIB and France’s Natixis are the lenders backing the bid. The US’ Milbank is legal adviser to the lenders.

Acwa Power International has bid with the local Sogex and is supported by a lender group comprising Jordan-based Arab Bank, the UK’s Standard Chartered and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). Milbank is legal adviser to Acwa Power International while US firm Shearman & Sterling is working for the lenders.

Marubeni has submitted a bid with Qatar Electricity & Water Company (QEWC) in a 50:50 joint venture. Their bid is backed by SMBC, Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Credit Agricole CIB and Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC).

The developers submitted their technical and commercial proposals in early December 2009, which were opened in January (MEED 27:1:10).

Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP) had not asked them to take part in a separate prequalification process, choosing instead to include its qualification criteria in the request for proposals.

OPWP is advised in the tender by the UK’s Berwin Leighton Paisner, Finland’s Poyry and Oman’s Bank Muscat.