By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 24 August 2015:
In the face of regular and widespread power cuts, Tripoli-based officials from the state electricity . . .[restrict]company GECOL have visited Turkey seeking to persuade Turkish power contractors to return. They want them to complete, refurbish or restore power projects abandoned by foreign contractors as security collapsed last summer.
“Hopefully there will be good results” senior executive Ayad Suleiman Al-Ghnaidi told the news agency Reuters. He declined to say which companies the GECOL delegation had seen but it would seem certain that one port of call was Ankara-based Gama Power Systems.
Gama was a key contractor on the new Gulf power station in Sirte. However in June last year, most of its Turkish workers left after a blanket threat from Khalifa Hafter’s then Dignity Operation, that all Turks and Qataris should quit Libya or face the consequences. To general delight, after Hafter had moderated his comments, the Turks returned in July and completed the commissioning of the first 350 MW unit of the Gulf power station’s planned 1400 MW output. However as the fighting intensified in August, Gama again withdrew its people, joining Korean engineers departing the project.
Shortly afterwards the first unit broke down but GECOL engineers managed to get it working again, though the Libya Herald was told at the time that it was no longer working at full capacity.
One obvious issue for GECOL in persuading Gama to come back is that the Gulf power station is, like all of Sirte, now under the control of IS.
A further problem the GECOL team will have faced as they did the rounds in Turkey is the outstanding debts owed to virtually all Turkish construction firms that took on Qaddafi-era projects. The government of Ali Zeidan cut a bilateral deal with Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan by which Libya agreed to make payments to settle up to 20 percent of outstanding debts, provided that Turkish contractors returned to their projects. Only a few companies, including Renaissance and Gama, was prepared to accept the offer.
On its web site, Gama still list the Gulf power station project as “ongoing”.