Jordan-based developer Mass Global has invited bids from five companies to expand its existing independent power project in Irbil, located in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

The facility is located about 20 kilometres south of the city of Irbil and currently has a capacity of 875MW. The project currently comprises a series of simple-cycle gas turbines.

The extension project will take the overall capacity of the plant to 1,312MW through the addition of several combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT).

The following companies have been asked to submit final bids to build the project including technical and commercial detail by the end of February:

  • Alstom (France)
  • Siemens (Germany)
  • GE (US)
  • Power Machines (Russia)
  • Wood Group (UK/US)

The winning bidder will construct eight new generation units. Each bidder has their own engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. Alstom is working with Switzerland’s ABB, Power Machines would use a contractor from Russia and GE has joined with a Kuwaiti EPC contractor.

Mass Global’s Irbil project originally consisted out four 125MW Frame 9E simple cycle gas turbines supplied by the US’ GE. The agreement to build the project was signed in mid-2006 and the facility was constructed on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis. Three additional units were subsequently added to the project to take the overall capacity to 875MW.

Irbil power plant is designed to work on two types of fuel, natural gas which will be the primary and diesel as secondary. The new CCGT component will utilise steam produced by the existing power plant.

Speaking at MEED’s Iraq Utilities 2010 conference in Istanbul, Turkey, Abdul Qader Ahmed, Mass Global’s director of power, the new units will improve the project, “It is economical, saving fuel and saving the environment because instead of throwing away the heat to the environment, you are utilising it – it goes back into the system.”

Mass Global has two additional power generation projects besides the Irbil project. One project is located at Sulaymaniah while the other is at Dohuk. The 500MW Sulaymaniah project was launched in mid-2007 and became fully operational at the end of 2009. It consists of four simple-cycle Frame 9E gas turbines – three turbines were sourced from GE and one was sourced from India’s BHEL.

The 500MW Dohuk power plant was launched in February 2010. The first unit is set to be synchronised next week. By 2011, the project – which comprises four Frame 9E turbines from GE – is to be fully operational.

As the first developer to successfully develop an IPP in Iraq, Mass Global stands out. The success also underlines the ability of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) ability to deliver new power generation as all three stations are located in the region.

In 2006, the population of Kurdistan struggled with only two hours of electricity per day. This has been raised to about 16 hours as a result of these projects and in irbil, Mass Global says that power is supplied almost continuously.

Dr Ahmed pointed to the KRG as a reason behind the success of the projects. “The authorities in Kurdistan are cooperating quite well and making things easy for us,” says Ahmed. Indeed, the regional government provides gas feedstock to the power plants free of charge.

However, Ahmed points out that there are still hurdles to overcome. “The fuel may be cheap, but it is not always available. Quantities of gas in Kurdistan is limited at the moment. So it’s enough for the 12 units we currently have in operation, but not enough for the new projects on a simple-cycle basis, so they must be combined cycle.”

Also, Ahmed states that, “International companies are not dynamic enough at keeping pace fixing manufacturing faults as they happen”. Nevertheless, according to Mass Global, KRG pays $2.9 a kWh, which offers a modest but reasonable return.