Tunisia increases gas to meet power demand

TUNIS, TUNISIA - Tunisia's electrical power demand is growing 6 annually, in step with the country's development plans.

The 11th development plan 2007-11 shows 5.4 power demand growth, and the Tunisian government is forecasting power demand growth of 7 for the 12th development plan 2012-16, as demand is expected to be in line with mega-projects and the subsequent economic push in the fields of housing, tourism, and business growth in a range of industries.

The vertically integrated utility Société Tunisienne de l'Electricité et du Gaz STEG, which was established in 1962, still generates approximately 75 of Tunisia's power and has a monopoly over the country's transmission and distribution of electricity and gas.

STEG supplied 70 of the natural gas requirements of Tunisia's power stations and relied on its bordering neighbor Algeria to fulfill the shortage. In its pursuit of a reduced import fuel bill, Tunisia is developing existing gas fields and exploring new fields with the cooperation of international companies such as BP plc.

In July 2010, Tunisia applied to the African Development Bank for a loan of US $187 million to expand its Hasdrubal offshore gas field, which is 106 kilometers offshore. This loan will help to raise gas production to 100 million cubic feet daily and 16,000 tons of oil equivalent from liquefied gas, in addition to oil and condensates that will be consumed by local market.

The Islamic development Bank granted STEG $45 million to extend a gas pipeline to the southern industrial area of Tunisia to feed the planned gas-fired power plants.

One of the gas-fired plants is Sousse, which will supply the industrial sector. STEG floated bids for construction of a 380- to 450-MW turnkey combined-cycle plant at the end of 2009 in the southern area of Sousse, having financed the scheme and planned to award the successful bidder with a 12-year operations and maintenance contract.

In November 2010 Construction and engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Incorporated won a $340 million contract to build the planned power plant. SNC-Lavalin will work with partner Ansaldo Energia. The plant is expected to be completed in 2013.


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