The project comprises a two-year engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase and a 25-year operation and maintenance phase. The EPC element calls for the installation of an 80-MW steam turbine, a 75-MW gas turbine and a 25-MW concentrating solar power element. Commercial offers are expected by mid-March, with an award due to be made the same day. Construction is set to begin in September. Ten companies in late 2005 purchased tender documents on the long-awaited project, following the submission of expressions of interest in June 2004.

The project will be financed by a debt package covering 75-80 per cent of the project’s cost. The remainder will be provided through equity, with the successful bidder responsible for 66 per cent of the project’s equity. The foreign partners will provide at least 51 per cent, with up to 15 per cent to come from an international financial institution.

NEAL will provide 20 per cent of the equity, with the remaining 14 per cent to come from local banks. Discussions are under way with Banque Exterieur d’Algerie either to fund the local portion or lead arrange its syndication.

‘Two bids are enough for us to go forward with the contract,’ says head of NEAL Tewfik Hasni. ‘Both companies have made several suggestions as to the configuration of the plant and the solar element.’