Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has invited expressions of interest to develop an independent power plant (IPP) at Qurayyah. The project will stand next to an existing power plant at a site on the east coast of Saudi Arabia.

The winning bidder will build, own and operate the steam power plant, which will be fuelled by heavy fuel oil (HFO) and will have a capacity of around 1,800MW.

Saudi Arabia has witnessed a sharp increase in demand for electricity over the past decade, which forced Riyadh to review its policy of using gas to feed its power plants.

And consumption is set to continue to climb. Forecasts by SEC suggest that power usage will increase to 50,074MW by 2012 and to 75,155MW by 2020.

Faced with a fast-growing population and expanding industrial base, the kingdom recently launched an ambitious pipeline of new power projects to meet the anticipated rise in demand for electricity.

Quarayyah is the third project to be developed under SEC’s IPP programme. The project is planned to come online in 2015 while the following two projects in the programme – to be built at Dheba and Shuqaiq – will be operational in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Developers have been asked to respond to the Qurayyah invitation by 31 May and a request for proposals is to be issued in June. SEC will be keen to keep the tender on schedule as the project is a key part of its independent power programme and essential if the kingdom is to keep up with growing demand.