The group held in late September contract clarification meetings in Khartoum with the client on the project, the Irrigation & Water Resources Ministry, but has yet to sign the contract.

The development comes amid indications that the French government is offering to provide financial support for a revised bid from Paris-based Alstom Power (MEED 20:6:2003).

Industry sources say a contract award to the VA Tech Hydro/Voith Siemens team is expected by late October, although there is still a chance that the contract could go to Alstom, which is undergoing a major restructuring. Two other groups bid for the M&E package – China’s Hafbin Dongfang and a team led by Russia’s Technopromexport (TPE).

The M&E package calls for the construction of the 1,500-MW hydroelectric plant, which will house 10 125-MW hydroelectric turbines, and the provision of equipment.

On the project’s transmission line package, also estimated to be worth about $300 million, an unidentified Chinese company is understood to be the low bidder.

Four Arab agencies have already committed to provide the bulk of funding for the two packages.

A consortium, made up of China International Water & Electric Corporation and China National Water Resources & Hydropower Engineering Corporation, signed the Eur 549 million ($630 million) civil works package in June.

The 520-metre-long dam will be built near the Nile’s fourth cataract, some 120 kilometres north of Khartoum. Completion is set for 2008. The engineering consultant on the project is Germany’s Lahmeyer International.