Syria Chooses 16 Bidders to Build First Private Power Plant

Syria selected Mitsui & Co. of Japan and 15 other companies and groups to bid this month for a contract to build and operate the country’s first privately owned power plant, an Electricity Ministry official said.

The Nasserieh plant, to be located northeast of the capital Damascus, will have a capacity of 180 megawatts to 250 megawatts, Khaled Homsi, head of the ministry’s public-private partnership unit, said in written comments yesterday.

Syria is encouraging the development of private businesses in its state-dominated economy, and President Bashar al-Assad issued an energy law on Nov. 14 enabling foreign and local private investors to generate and distribute electricity.

Syria’s demand for power stood at 44.5 billion kilowatts in 2009, up 5.9 percent from the previous year, according to figures from the state-run Public Establishment for Electrical Generation and Transfer. Power supply reached 43.3 billion kilowatts last year, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2008.

Among the pre-qualified bidders for the project are GEK Terna SA of Greece; Finland’s Waertsilae Oyj; Powertek Bhd. of Malaysia; Iran’s state-owned Mapna International; Evonik Steag GmbH of Germany; a group including MMC Corp. of Malaysia; and Saudi Arabia’s water and power company Acwa Holding, Homsi said.

Other bidders include Tenaga Nasional Bhd. of Malaysia; London-based International Power Plc; Karadeniz Holding AS of Turkey; the France-based Agha Khan Fund for Development; Mytilineos Holdings SA of Greece; Aksa Enerji Uretim AS of Turkey; India’s GMR Infrastructure Ltd. and El Sewedy Electric Co. of Egypt; and Qatar Electricity & Water Co.

The International Monetary Fund has urged Syria to speed its transition to a market-based economy while reducing its dependence on the oil industry. The country is trying to reverse a decline in its crude production, which peaked at 583,000 barrels a day in 1996. The government has forecast that production will drop to 380,000 barrels a day this year.

Syria opened its first stock exchange in 2009 and aims to attract as much as $55 billion in foreign direct investment over the next five years, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah Dardari said on Sept. 24.