The 115 million Euro turnkey contract to build a 30 km high voltage submarine link connecting the Spanish and Moroccan grids across the Straits of Gibraltar has been won by a 50/50 Nexans and Pirelli consortium. It is regarded as the most important contract for the submarine power industry in 2003, and has been awarded by Moroccan power company L’Office National de l’Electricit├ę and Spanish Red Electrica de Espa├▒a.

The project is expected to double the capacity of the existing submarine power transmission link – constructed by the same consortium in 1997 – with a total of 90 km of new high voltage cables. The project is of key strategic importance for the region, since it will significantly improve interconnection between the power grids of Europe and North Africa, allowing better peak load compensation in Europe.

The contract involves the manufacturing and laying of three oil-filled paper insulated cables, which – along with the existing cable – will transmit 1400 MW at 400 kV AC. The project will also include two telecomms fibre optic cables 30 km long for system control and broad band data transmission.

Nexans’ Halden plant in Norway will manufacture one of the power cables and one of the telecommunications cables, which will be installed at a depth of around 600 m by the cable ship Skagerrak. The project should be completed by late 2005.