Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Joint Gulf Electricity Grid Passes Major Milestone

The first stage in synchronizing the electrical power grids of six Gulf nations was completed early this week as Qatar and Bahrain successfully merged their respective networks. The merging of the electrical power grids of the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates - is expected to be completed by 2011. GCC countries estimate that by increasing cooperation between member states the project will save $1.4 billion annually by eliminating the need for new power plants despite the growing energy demands of the developing region. All GCC member states except Oman signed a power sharing agreement earlier this month to facilitate the flow of electricity between their countries. Oman remains the only country to have not set a date for its entry to the common power grid. Analysts have said Oman will eventually join the grid as the political will backing of the project is strong. While the Gulf region is home to some of the world's largest proven reserves of oil, including the world's top producer Saudi Arabia, domestic electricity production capacities have often been held back by the prioritization of oil and gas export related industries. The region's massive oil exports have spurred rapid economic development and a sharp rise in living standards. This has led to a drastic increase in household electricity consumption.