By Salih Al-Manufi
Ahmed Imam, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Energy, is expected to sign an agreement with his Saudi counterpart this Wednesday for the construction of an electrical power line between the two countries.
Imam is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a trip that will last two days, during which both sides will also discuss issues related to mutual cooperation in the new and renewable energy sector.
The total cost of the project is set to reach $1.6bn, with each side set to bear the cost of construction on its own side of the border, which for Egypt is estimated at $600m. The line is expected to be able to transport upwards of 3,000 megawatts of energy per day.
Highlighted benefits include the transfer of energy in between peak hours of consumption. For Egypt peak hours are from sunset to 10pm, in contrast with Saudi Arabia where they fall during over midday. Other stated benefits include connecting Egypt’s electricity grid to that of the greater Gulf region.
The two sides are still working to determine when to hold an international auction for the constructions bids for the project.
Imam stated that all consulting, reviewing and planning aspects of the project have already been conducted and completed, including maritime survey operations, the demarcation of the Red Sea floor, and the identification of accurate geographic coordinates. A number of pathways have so far been considered for the implementation of the line, whose total length is set to reach 1300 kilometers, 300-400 km of which is located on the Egyptian side.
He added that construction and implementation of the power line was important for both countries because of the time differences seen in peak hours of consumption. Such a system will allow both to export and exchange upwards of 3,000 megawatts of energy throughout the day.
Saudi Arabia’s cabinet agreed to approve the project several weeks ago, with initial plans for its construction going back as far as two years.