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Power Surplus

UME looks at the current activity in Bahrain's utilities market

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A power surplus has meant the industry has been quiet over the last 12 months. (GETTY IMAGES)
A power surplus has meant the industry has been quiet over the last 12 months. (GETTY IMAGES)

UME considers whether a quiet 2012 for Bahrain’s utilities industry will pave the way for greater activity over the next twelve months

It has been a relatively quiet year for developments in Bahrain’s utilities industry, dominated by the inauguration of the Al Dur Power and Water project in early May of 2012.

The addition of this US $2.1 billion plant – with 1,234MW of electric capacity and 218,000m3 of desalinated water output – appears to have gone a considerable way towards meeting current and near-future demand on the Kingdom’s power and water networks.

The figures perhaps help illustrate Bahrain’s current situation. As this issue went to press, demand on the country’s electricity network stood at 1,198MW, whilst capacity was 3,040 MW.

On water too, total supplied water was recorded at 136.84 MIGD, with storage availability of 181.17 MIGD. Even allowing for the evident fact that this is not the time of year for peak demand, the surplus the country appears to have is in stark contrast to the situation facing much of the region.

In August of last year, the situation in electricity was confirmed by the country’s Minister for Electricity and Water Affairs, Dr Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, who was quoted as saying that 2012 summer demand peaked at 2,948 MW.

In power then, the surplus situation has meant that much of recent reports from the country’s sector has focused on its push into renewable energy.

Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), the National Oil & Gas Authority (NOGA) and Petra Solar, back in August, reached an agreement to build a 5 MW distributed smart solar energy scheme, that will see the trio use smart grid technology to provide solar power at a number of locations across the Kingdom.

Speaking at the time, Petra Solar president Shihab Kuran, said, “Solar power and a stable electric grid are critical elements to Bahrain developing economic and energy security. In Awali, we are deploying solar power plus we are building a wireless smart grid network, which are the building blocks for command and control of smart cities.”

This focus on the efficiency of the grid itself was the focus of news later in the year, as the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) announced that it had signed an agreement with Bahrain’s government to support the development of its power grid. KFAED is reportedly contributing $250 million in funds, as part of total project costs of $800 million.

The project is set to see the installation of land and marine cabling, as well as relay stations across the Kingdom that should bolster the stability of the grid and minimise power outages.

Another key concern for the country, in common with other GCC countries, is ensuring secure gas supplies, with gas demand rising by 3.5% per year over the last decade. The country, on average, consumes about 1.45 billion standard cubic feet of gas each day, with this figure increasing by around 35% during peak demand periods to meet power requirements. This gas demand is expected to continue increasing by 3% annually over the next ten years as the economy continues to grow.

In water, Bahrain relies heavily on a few assets – with Al Hidd IWPP providing around two thirds of the country’s total water consumption – some 90 MIGD output.

Speaking to UME back in November, Hidd Power Company executive MD, Andy Biffen, said, “Bahrain is in a slightly different position to others in the region, in that there is groundwater. Historically there was a lot of water taken out of the ground, but I think that the new capacity will probably offset the groundwater extraction, which environmentally should be a good thing for the landscape generally.”

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Project in focus
In June of last year, BAPCO selected GE to design and supply a membrane bioreactor (MBR) system for the wastewater treatment plant at its oil refinery in Sitra, near Manama. The scheme is aimed at supporting BAPCO’s efforts to meet stringent quality levels for wastewater for discharge into the Gulf.

The BAPCO refinery is one of the biggest of its kind in the region, and refines over 250,000 barrels of crude each day. The GE-supplied technology – ZeeWeed – is set to handle a maximum wastewater flow from the facility of around 24 million litres each day.

GE says that its MBR technology “sets the standard for hollow-fibre ultrafiltration technology combined with biological treatment”. Such technology, the firm suggests, is the preferred method of handling complex wastewater due to its consistent high-quality effluent which is suitable for both discharge or reuse applications.

The firm will supply a system comprising of four MBR trains, each with 10 membrane cassettes containing ZeeWeed 500 membrane modules that have been reinforced. Equipment is being supplied under contract with EPC firm GS Engineering & Construction.

The firm is also set to design the MBR system and provide support for the first five years of operation.

“The BAPCO wastewater treatment plant is another example in GE’s long history of supporting customers in Bahrain with innovative energy technology – in this case, advanced water solutions – to meet their toughest operational challenges,” said GE Energy Middle East president and CEO, Joseph Anis.

Bahrain News
The CEO of Bahrain’s Electricity and Water Authority, Sheikh Nawaf Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, in January agreed two deals worth a combined US $58.6 million with a Bahraini contracting company to work on water transmission projects in the Kingdom.

The deal includes the establishment of two ground storage tanks with a capacity of 20 million gallons, together with associated works, at Al Dur Forwarding Station. It also involves establishing several elevated storage tanks at different water stations, including a 1.5 million gallon capacity facility.

The projects are expected to be finished by the end of next year, and are part of the Kingdom’s plans to bolster water security and increase the flexibility of water supplies across a number of provinces.

Key Bahrain stats
- Population: 1,248,348 (July 2012 est.)
- Land area: 760 km2
- GDP: US $31.3 billion
Source: CIA World Factbook

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