Nuweiba Power Plant, Egypt

Locals of Nuweiba stopped the construction of a power plant by the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, which would have had a detrimental effect on the environment and tourism in the area.


Description

The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) and its subsidiary, East Delta Electricity Production Company (EDEPC) received approval of funding in 2008 for the construction of a power plant in the pristine South Sinai Peninsula, at the heart of the popular touristic area of Nuweiba City. Locals only found out about the project after they noticed the construction equipment in the area, and their outrage led to immediate mobilisation and campaigning to stop the project. The two local tribes, the Tarabin and the Maizena, would have been particularly impacted by its implementation, considering its negative outcomes on the environment and tourism in the city, a source of livelihood for the Sinai tribes. The Bedouin tribes in the area coordinated with owners of hotels, scuba diving centers, beach camp owners, community members, and tourist operators to send complaints to the two funding banks, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The complaints centered around the arguments that there was no proper consultation of citizens of Nuweiba before approving the project, nor consideration given to how it would lead to the demise of the local tourism industry, forcing the closure of hotels, diving centers, and other tourism service providers, and causing the loss of jobs and livelihoods. The approval of the project also gave no consideration to the preservation of local biodiversity, with its largely undisturbed marine life and coral reefs, disregarding the fact that the Gulf of Aqaba is a protected area under Egyptian law. Local NGO Hemaya also intervened, mobilizing the community to protest, and creating an online petition entitled “Stop the Destruction of Nuweiba and its Coral Reefs”, which was signed by more than 2,300 people.  It was outrageous that the project had been approved by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) under strong pressure from the Minister of Electricity, less than a week after receiving the EIA, with a minimal study of it by ministry experts. Some reports allege that the project had actually not received approval from the EEAA, yet construction permit was given by the South Sinai Govornorate. Although the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) argued that the project would help create jobs for the bedouins, it completely disregarded the fact that the bedouins would not work in construction or labor, and that the project would only push them off their land and further into the mountains. After receiving the complaints, the EIB sent three independent experts to assess the impacts of the project. The investigation confirmed the negative social, environmental and economic impacts of the power plant, and based on the findings the EIB declined funding the project in the specified location. HEPCA reported in its newsletter on 1 January, 2010 that "the European Investment Bank has declined a US $320 million loan to finance the project amid considerable pressure from environmental campaigners.” According to el-Ghamrawy, the owner of an ecolodge nearby and one of the leaders of the campaign, the success of the campaign marked a new kind of activism in Egypt, where the whole community came together, including the two tribes who have a history of conflict, showing the power people can have if they unite. There are speculations that a new location is being considered for the project, possibly in Ayoub Moussa, but there is no concrete data on this yet, and HEPCA has promised to closely follow-up on the case.

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Basic Data
NameNuweiba Power Plant, Egypt
CountryEgypt
ProvinceSouth Sinai Governorate
SiteNuweiba
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA 750 megawatt gas-fired combined-cycle power plant was to be built at the furthest Eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula, within the western coastline of the Aqaba Gulf, and would use water from the gulf for cooling and discharge. The power plant was to be comprised of “two identical 375 MW modules, each one including a 250 MW combustion turbine generator (ISO), a 125 MW stream turbine generator and a heat recovery stream generator (HRSG).” [1] The plant would need to consume 1.3 million cubic meters of water from the sea per day in order to function, pumping it back at temperatures between 5°C and 9°C warmer. The amount of discharged water into the Red Sea would have a horrendous impact on the coastline, which is promoted as an eco-destination and protected area, and has a unique endemic marine and plant species, as well as unexplored creeks and beaches. The efficiency of the proposed plant was estimated at 52-54% with natural gas, and CO2 emissions of 0.42kg/kWh, or 1,260 kilotons per year. The annual cost of operation is estimated at US $90,000. The plant was intended to be fully operation by the year 2012/2013.
Project Area (in hectares)10.5
Level of Investment (in USD)765,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesEgyptian Electricity Holding Company from Egypt
Power Generation Engineering and Services Company from Egypt
East Delta Electircity Production Company from Egypt
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment

Ministry of Electricity and Energy

South Sinai Governorate

Ministry of Tourism

Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)
International and Financial InstitutionsAfrican Development Bank - Banque Africaine de Développement
International Finance Corporation (EIB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersHurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA)

Hemaya
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNew Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The mobilisations, petitions, and 24 complaint letters filed by the Nuweiba community led to an independent investigation by the EIB and ultimately the cancellation of the project.

According to el-Ghamrawy, the owner of an ecolodge nearby and one of the leaders of the campaign, the success of the campaign marked a new kind of activism in Egypt, where the whole community came together, including the two tribes who have a history of conflict, showing the power people can have if they unite.
Sources and Materials
References

Assessment of the impact on the marine biodiversity of the power plant planned by EEHC in Nuweiba, southern Sinai, Egypt
[click to view]

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
[click to view]

Impact Assessment of the South Sinai Power Plant at Nuweiba on the Local Tourism Industry
[click to view]

Conclusions report based on complaints against the Nuweiba Power Plant
[click to view]

Executive Summary of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
[click to view]

Links

A quiet revolt stops a power plant in Nuweiba
[click to view]

[1] HEPCA- Nuweiba Power Plant
[click to view]

Egypt power plant about to destroy resort, corals and island tourism
[click to view]

Webpage of European Investment Bank with the Reports about the Nuweiba Power Plant
[click to view]

Media Links

Text of the petition against the campaign
[click to view]

Other Documents

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Meta Information
ContributorAsfari Institute, American University of Beirut
Last update23/03/2017
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