Kuwait’s Electricity & Water Ministry says it will go ahead with a project to expand an existing power plant at Al-Zour South within weeks.

The timetable means the project could be launched ahead of the planned Al-Zour North phase 1 and 2 plants, which were previously understood to be the ministry’s priority.

According to a ministry source, it is set to issue a tender for the expansion of the Al-Zour South power plant in early March.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract will cover the addition of a 400MW steam turbine to the existing 800MW plant at the site.

France’s Alstom won the €150m ($205m) contract to supply five gas turbines to the project in July 2007.

The local Al-Ghanim International Trading & Contracting Company was the contractor on the 800MW Al-Zour South scheme. This project formed part of the ministry’s emergency power programme for 2008.

The move to go ahead with the expansion scheme will come as a surprise to contractors, who tell MEED they expected the ministry to prioritise the Al-Zour North project.

The client had been due to issue a tender for the first two phases of the Al-Zour North plant in early February, but this has been delayed. According to one contractor, the tender is not expected until the end of the February.

With capacity of 1,500MW of power and 102 million gallons a day of water, the Al-Zour North plant is much larger than the project to expand Al-Zour South and will take longer to complete.

However, the Al-Zour South project is hampered by the absence of sufficient power transmission infrastructure at the site. The ministry will have to build a 400kV substation before it can handle the additional power capacity as a result of the expansion.