29 May 2007 - 13:16
  • News Code: 105860

Demand for electrical power is growing at unprecedented rates and Kuwait will need to spend some 7.8 billion dinars (US$27 billion, ¤20 billion) to upgrade its power generation sector to meet these requirements by 2015, the minister of electricity and water said Monday.

The minister, Mohammed al-Eleim, said in a presentation to Parliament that electricity demand increased 9 percent in 2006 and 8 percent in 2005 because of economic growth and an increase in wasteful consumption by the population of 3 million.

 

The government produces electricity and sells it at highly subsidized prices, part of a generous cradle-to-grave welfare system in place for decades.

 

Unless consumption is seriously curbed, there will be shortages and scheduled outages this summer, he warned. Kuwait is one of the hottest countries in the world. Temperatures soar to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in the shade in August.

 

Five of the country"s six power stations also desalinate sea water, meaning there will be water shortages too. This desert nation is rich in oil, but poor in fresh water.

 

Al-Eleim said power stations need to be upgraded, new ones need to be built and the country needs to switch to using natural gas as fuel rather than crude, which is less efficient and makes it difficult to maintain generation facilities.

 

Kuwait discovered commercial quantities of natural gas last year, but has not yet ramped up production. It currently has plans to import gas from Iran, Qatar and Iraq.

 

PIN/AP

News Code 105860

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