Profits in the third quarter were SR 1,292 million ($344.5 million), overturning losses of SR 687 million ($183.2 million) incurred in the first half of the year. The sharp discrepancy between quarterly results is the result of increased electricity use in the summer, when demand is highest for air-conditioning.

SEC earlier this year released a full statement of profits for the first time since completing its process of consolidation. In 2001, it recorded a profit of SR 710.8 million ($189.5 million).

SEC is unbundling its operations to pave the way for competition to be introduced in some areas of the market. The company is expected to start privatising existing generation assets next year and is planning, in co-operation with the Saline Water Conversion Corporation, to launch tenders for independent water and power projects by the end of 2002.