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The region’s power connection

The region’s power connection

The first step toward integrating the region’s power grids will be complete by the end of July. We know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is.

July 8, 2009 10:05 by

The power grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain will be linked later this month, the body overseeing interconnection said Tuesday.

Gulf Arab countries hope the $1.4 billion power connection project will help them meet rapidly rising power demand and avoid power outages.

The United Arab Emirates would hook up to the grid in 2011, the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) said in a statement. That would be a year later than previously expected. Oman was also expected to join the project.

Representatives of five of the six countries signed a power trading agreement on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia. Oman has yet to sign but would do so later, Yousuf Janahi, chairman of the GCCIA said.

“The agreement is between transmission system operators, power procurement companies and the GCCIA for the sole purpose of exchanging and trading electrical power,” Janahi said after the agreement was signed.

The Gulf countries have little excess capacity to sell for now. They all have similar patterns of consumption, which sees demand peak in the summer as air conditioners work on full throttle to counter soaring desert temperatures.

Kuwait has been in talks for months to buy power from Qatar through the grid; however, Qatar has told Kuwait that it has no available electricity to sell, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The economies of the world’s top oil-producing region have boomed on record oil revenues, leaving them struggling to supply the power needed for expansion.

Subsidized power across the region has encouraged rapid growth in demand. Kuwait has one of the highest per capita power consumption rates in the world.

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