Saudi Arabia is planning to award the contract to build the 3,000MW electricity interconnection contract with Egypt by mid-2016.

Speaking at the Saudi Water & Electricity forum in Riyadh on 8 February, Saleh al-Awaji, deputy minister for electricity, Ministry of Electricity & Water, said that Riyadh was planning to award the contract by the middle of the year, and that the electricity link would be operational in 2019.

The Egyptian-Saudi interconnection will be a 500 kV direct current link starting at Badr in Egypt passing by Tabuk and ends at El-Madinah el-Munawara in Saudi Arabia. The link will facilitate the sharing of up to 3,000MW of electricity between the countries.

MEED reported in November that the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) had signed two agreements to assist with the development of the power connection linking Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The first agreement is a KD30m ($98m) loan deal signed with the Egyptian government to assist in financing the Egyptian section of the power connection project. The second agreement was a project agreement signed with the Egypt Electricity Transmission Company, which is undertaking the project.

The KFAED says the total project cost is estimated to be KD519m. and its loan covers about 15 per cent of the Egyptian section, which is expected to cost about KD200m.

In December 2014, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved $220m of financing for the project.

The scheme has been discussed for several years and was stalled following the political change in Egypt in 2011. The link will mean Egypt is connected to the GCC electricity network, which began operations in mid-2009. It is based on a study originally completed by the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development.

Egypt is expected to fund about 40 per cent of the project, with Saudi Arabia scheduled to pay the remaining 60 per cent.