Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) expects to sign the financing of its Jorf Lasfar power plant expansion project in the first quarter of 2012.

The 700MW power plant expansion was originally financed on Taqa’s balance sheet. This was done so that construction could start at the site, allowing power to be brought online sooner. This is important in Morocco where additional power generating capacity is urgently needed.  

Japan’s Mitsui and South Korea’s Daewoo E&C won the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build the expansion in 2011 (MEED 29:5:11). The project, which comprises two 350MW generation units, is under construction. The first unit is due to be brought online by December 2013 and the second is to follow by April 2014.

Taqa is now wrapping the $1.6bn financing for the project through a combination of commercial loans from international and local banks, export credit agency (ECA) loans and equity. According to Frank Perez, Taqa’s head of global power, Taqa is targeting a 75:25 debt-equity split.

More than a third of the debt will be supplied by local banks, another share in excess of one-third will be supplied by ECAs Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (Jbic) and Japan’s Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (Nexi).

In addition to the expansion project, Taqa owns the original Jorf Lasfar power plant, which is southwest of Casablanca. Taqa, which bought the plant from the US’ CMS Generation in 2007, signed the contract to expand the plant in May 2009. The plant was built in 1998 with a project finance loan of $1bn, making it one of the first IPPs in the region.