Egypt’s ongoing efforts to boost its energy capacity received an early Ramadan lift as the contractor Orascom Construction announced that it has completed the first phase of the West Damietta power plant two weeks early.

The handover will add a further 250 megawatts to the country’s power grid.

The contractor, spun out from the Netherlands-based OCI Holdings in March, achieving dual listings on the Egyptian Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai, is part of a consortium that is building a pair of power plants at Assiut and West Damietta. The Assiut plant will have a capacity of 1,000MW and West Damietta 500MW.

Both are being built on a fast-track basis.

Orascom added that it had handed over 925MW of capacity over the past two months at Assiut, West Damatia and the 6th of October Phase II plants.

The company also has a joint venture with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), which is seeking project finance for the first phase of a huge new coal-fired plant close to the Red Sea port of El Hamarawein.

The pair are putting up an equal share of equity for the US$3 billion plant, which is expected to generate at least 3,000MW. They expect to raise $1.95bn from banks, and have received interest from Egyptian, GCC and international backers, and credit agencies.

Osama Bishai, the Orascom Construction chief executive, has said that he expects to achieve financial close on the $1bn-plus first phase of the project by the first quarter of 2016.

Egypt has suffered from power shortages over the past few years, particularly during the hot summer months and has set a goal of doubling its current power capacity of about 30,000MW by 2020.

Major investments have been pledged into conventional and renewable energy by international firms including Siemens, GE, BP and the Canadian renewables specialist Skypower.

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar also has a joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and the Egyptian Electric Holding Company to create 4GW of renewable energy and gas-powered projects.

Source: The National