Leaders from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have signed an agreement finalizing which consulting firms will carry out impact studies for the 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance hydroelectric project.
The agreement resulted from a multi-day meeting of the countries, and addresses Egyptian and Sudanese concerns that the massive plant could hamper water availability downstream on Africa's Nile River.
Together the countries selected French engineering consultants BRL Group and Artelia, who will begin performing technical studies on the project in February.
The foundation for the agreement was laid in March, when officials from the three countries signed a declaration of cooperative principles that alters a 1929 treaty written by Britain that gave Egypt veto power over any projects in upstream countries involving the Nile River. Ethiopia's apparent disregard for the 1929 treaty led Egypt to ponder military intervention when Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in 2013, though the countries have since launched joint initiatives to study the dam's potential impacts.
HydroWorld.com reported in September that the water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan had agreed to establish a committee intended to study water resources and socio-environmental effects related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's construction.
Ethiopian officials said in March 2013 they expect to be producing at least 750 MW of power from Grand Renaissance within 18 months. The project is reported to be more than 40% complete.
Grand Renaissance -- formerly known as both "Project X" and the "Millennium Project" before Ethiopia's Council of Ministers renamed it in 2011 -- will be owned and operated by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corp.
Alstom last year signed a US$406.32 million contract with Metals & Engineering Corp. to supply eight 375-MW turbine-generators for the project. Salini Construttori Spa of Italy received a contract in 2011 to construct the project 40 kilometers from the Sudan border.
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