Approval for first Syrian private power plant

Jan 22, 1998 01:00 AM

Dec. 5, 1997 Syria has approved the building of the first private power plant in the country, opening the way for private investors to participate in this sector previously limited to the government.
In Brussels, Belgian energy holding company Tractebel said it and US-based investment company Sarakbi Group have been given the go-ahead to develop the first private sector power plant in Syria.
The green light was announced by Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud Zu'bi during a meeting with Tractebel and Sarakbi Group representatives and Syrian government officials in Brussels.
Tractebel and the Sarakbi Group are setting up a joint venture named "The Syrian Power Investment Company,'' in which Tractebel will be the manager.
Officials in Damascus said the group would build the $ 500 million plant at Bardeh, some 150 km (90 miles) north of Damascus. It is expected to be operational by the year 2000.
The new plant will have a capacity of 600 MW and the electricity it produces would be sold to the Syrian government, they added.
Officials said the new company would sell electricity to the Ministry of Electricity and that the ministry would distribute the power to the private and public sectors in Syria.
Syria would also be ready to provide the gas or fuel oil which is necessary for the project at market price. Electricity was also expected to be bought at market prices, they said.
Philippe Smets, vice-president of Tractebel Electricity and Gas International, said representatives of the group met with Zu'bi, who is also chief of the Higher Investment Council, to discuss the projects. "Mr Zu'bi confirmed during the meeting an official decree authorising Tractebel-Sarakbi to implement the project,'' Smets said. He said the group and the Ministry of Electricity would shortly finalise the details of the power purchase agreement. "With the completion of this project, Tractebel is returning to Syria,'' Smets said. "The company used to operate tramway and power concessions in the capital Damascus and in Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria during the first half of this century.''
One of Tractebel's predecessors built and operated the el-Tequieh hydroelectric power plant, 30 km (19 miles) from the capital in 1905, he said.

Tractebel is a major global energy, environmental and services business, based in Brussels, Belgium.
The Sarakbi group is an international investment group chaired by Bourhan Sarakbi, a U.S. citizen of Syrian origin who has a base in Beirut, Lebanon.

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