The project entails the acquisition of the existing 1,000-MW, 30 million-gallon-a-day (g/d) power and desalination complex and the installation of 60 million g/d of new desalination capacity. The IP/Sumitomo/Tractebel team offered a price of $738 million, 3.8 per cent higher than the $710 million quote from Malaysia’s Malakoff Berhadwith Saudi Arabia’s National Power Company. The third bidder is the group of Marubeni Corporationand JGC Corporation, both of Japan, and Kuwait-based Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) at $667 million.

The preferred bidder will now enter detailed negotiations with the government. According to the project timetable, the 20-year power and water purchase agreement (PWPA) is due to be signed on 11 January, with financial close scheduled by the end of March. The IP/Sumitomo/Tractebel team is backed by a bank group led by Royal Bank of Scotland. Its nominated engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor is France’s Sidemand the new-build capacity, which will consist of 10 6 million-g/d multi-effect distillation (MED) units, is due for commissioning in the summer of 2007.

Tractebel and GIC are carrying out the kingdom’s first private power scheme, the Al-Ezzal independent power project (IPP). The government’s advisory team on both projects is BNP Paribas, Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringerand the UK’s Mott MacDonald.