Saudi Arabia is likely to privatise its electricity sector by 2014 as a part of a bid to liberalise the entire energy industry, the state-owned Saudi Gazette newspaper reported on Sunday.
A restructuring of the country's electricity sector will divide up the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) -- currently the sole provider of electricity in the Kingdom -- into smaller companies. "We are working now at establishing four generation companies and one distribution company by 2014," Amer Al-Swaha, head of SEC's Independent Power Provider (IPP) programme told the Gazette. "The four generation companies will have similar capacity and technology and will not be based on geographic region. They will all have the same starting point. This will allow us to compare their relative performance," he added. SEC plans to establish a state-owned power supplier, which will buy electricity from the four privatised firms and sell it to Saudi citizens. Demand for electricity has surged in Saudi Arabia over the past few years, reaching 51,000 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 9 per cent higher than the year before. Al-Swaha expects demand for electricity to climb to 120,000 MW by 2030. The population of Saudi is expected to increase from its current 28 million to 31 million by 2015, and hit 37 million by 2020, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculations.