Japan’s Sojitz has dropped out of the GDF Suez Energy International-led consortium that is in discussions with Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea) to develop the Mirfa independent water and power project (IWPP).

It is unclear on the exact reasons why Sojitz has left the consortium, although it is understood that the addition of certain conditions put on developing the IWPP has resulted in the firm deciding to leave the group. It is also not clear whether the UK/French GDF Suez will require a new partner, or whether it will be able to proceed alone if it is awarded the contract to develop the plant.

MEED reported in June last year that the GDF Suez Energy International consortium was the frontrunner to win the deal to develop the IWPP, but the scheme has slipped behind schedule, with Adwea having planned to sign all project agreements by early September.

GDF Suez is the only consortium still in negotiations with Adwea, but the international developer has yet to be awarded the contract to develop the IWPP, which will have a power generation capacity of 1,600MW and a 52.5 million-gallon-a-day (g/d) reverse-osmosis desalination component.

MEED recently reported that the Mirfa project was delayed after the Abu Dhabi Executive Council decided to seek further updates on the requirements of power from the scheme in mid-September. While there has been no official or internal decision to delay the project, it has slipped behind schedule due to the ongoing discussions, and the initial target for the IWPP’s first power to come online in 2015 is no longer possible.

Adwea launched the tender for the scheme in June 2012, following the Executive Council’s approval of the project in April that year.

Adwea received bids from six consortiums in March 2013 for the IWPP. A consortium led by Japan’s Marubeni submitted the lowest tariff price of AED0.127 ($0.035) for a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generation and AED12.2 ($3.3) for every thousand gallons of water, with the GDF Suez consortium having submitted a bid of AED0.13 a kWh and AED14.5 for every thousand gallons of water.

The other bidding groups were led by France’s EDF, Japan’s Sumitomo Coporation, Singapore’s Sembcorp and Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power.

The winning bidder will take a 40 per cent stake in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the IWPP, while Adwea will hold the remaining 60 per cent.