The ageing Naga Hammadi barrage on the Nile in Egypt is soon to be replaced with a 64MW hydroelectric and irrigation plant at a cost of US$186M.

The new barrage will be a 320m long concrete structure to be erected in a single construction pit spanning the width of the river. During construction, the Nile will be diverted past the construction pit through a 1100m long canal.

The hydro plant will have four Kaplan turbines.

Doubts about the structural integrity of the existing weir, now 70 years old, came out of a study conducted in 1997. Its replacement will be built in a geologically suitable position 3km downstream.

A consortium of European and Egyptian firms led by lahmeyer International will provide complete engineering services for the project. Over US$200M in loans for the project is to be provided by the German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW) and the European Investment Bank. Subject to the commencement of design work in 1999, construction is scheduled to start in 2001, with the barrage coming into operation by the end of 2006.

Some fifty local and international companies have expressed interest in competing for the contract. Companies that bought tender documents include Bilfinger & Berger and Ed Zueblin, of Germany; Dumez, Campenon Bernard and Bouygues, all of France; South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company and Samsung Engineering Corporation; Balfour Beatty and Kier, both of the UK; Besix of Belgium; and Binladin International of Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Water Supply of the central government in Cairo is expected to prepare a shortlist of about eight consortia to bid for the contract. There will be four packages covering civil works, hydro-mechanical equipment, turbines and generators and electrical equipment.

•Germany’s KfW is considering offering finance for another barrage scheme on the Nile, as a feasibility study is under way to determine whether the Asyut barrage should be repaired or replaced. It is expected that any new barrage will include a hydroelectric station.