BELGIUM’S TRACTABEL HAS pulled out of the bidding for the Umm Al Nar independent water and power project in the United Arab Emirates, making the project a two-horse race, officials confirmed in Abu Dhabi on 22 November. Tractabel did not submit its bid on 18 November, the bid submission closing date.

The groups that bid are the UK’s International Power in joint alliance with two Japanese companies Mitsui & Co and Tokyo Electric Power Co. The other bid was by France’s TotalfinaElf.

The date for the final bids was extended to 18 November from 23 September 2002. The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) will now evaluate the bids and the final selection of the developer will be made in late January 2003, a senior official of Adwea said.

Italy’s Enel Power, which had partnered Tractabel, had pulled out of the bidding in September and since then Tractabel had been looking for a partner.

The two bidding groups in the race now have the strong backing of banks. The alliance of International Power and Japanese companies is backed by ANZ Investment Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, West LB and ING. TotalFinaElf is backed by ABN Amro, Citibank and Credit Lyonnais among others.

The selected developer or developer consortium will own 40% of a special purpose vehicle to purchase, develop, build, own, operate and maintain the Umm Al Nar water and power complex.

The remaining equity will be held directly or indirectly by Adwea.

The Umm Al Nar complex, east of Abu Dhabi, currently has power and desalination capacity of some 1100MW and 100M gallons per day (gpd) respectively and a further 62.5M gpd of desalination capacity is under construction at the complex, which is expected to be commissioned before the execution of the project agreements and the commercial close of the project.