The Tunisian Industry and Technology Ministry has prequalified seven companies to bid to build a 1,200MW independent power project (IPP) at Elmed.

The following companies have been prequalified:

  • Edison (Italy)
  • Electrabel (Belgium)
  • Enel (Italy)
  • International Power (UK)
  • Marubeni Corporation (Japan)
  • Mitsui & Co (Japan)
  • Sorgenia (Italy)

According to Belhassan Shibu, director of the IPP group at the ministry, it intends to issue a request for proposals by the end of 2011.

The successful bidder will develop the project on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis under a 20-30 year concession. The scheme will comprise a thermal power plant along with a renewable energy component of at least 100MW.

The project will have a total capacity of 1,200MW, of which 400MW will supply the local utility Societe Tunisienne de l’Electricite et du Gaz (Steg). The remaining 800MW will be exported to Italy through an interconnection project that is to be built by Steg, in partnership with Italian company Terna.

The interconnection project, which is a subsea transmission line between Tunisia and Sicily, was launched in March 2007 when Italy’s then Economic Development Minister Pier Luigi Bersani and Tunisia’s Industry, Energy and Small and Medium Entreprises Minister Afif Chelbi signed a joint declaration with the consortium and defined its mandate.

The announcement of prequalified companies was set back due to ongoing delays in the ministry and then government changes due to the ousting of long-time President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January.

The ministry issued the request for qualification in April 2010 with a deadline of 26 July 2010 for submissions (MEED 30:4:10). Since that date, a tender for another IPP has been cancelled. The 350-500MW Bizerte IPP received three bids before the plan was cancelled in November 2010 (MEED 10:12:10).

Two of the three bids for the cancelled Bizerte scheme contained companies that have been prequalified to bid for Elmed IPP. International Power, Marubeni and Mitsui were all involved in the Bizerte tender. The impact of the cancellation of the Bizerte tender is likely to affect the number of bids to build the Elmed IPP.