Iran is seeking international and local funding for a new multipurpose dam in East Azerbaijan province to counter a budget squeeze stemming from this year’s fall in oil prices and revenues.

The Ostour dam, on the Sefid river near Miyaneh, will produce 165MW of electricity and supply irrigation water for 20,000ha of farmland. The dam will also be used for flood control.

The client, Mahad Qods Consulting Engineers, which is a subsidiary of the Energy Ministry, has invited contractors to prequalify for the construction contract, with the requirement that they must offer financing packages. Bid invitations are expected to be issued in December.

In February Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf said that his budget for 1998-1999 had been cut by 17.5% and that several projects, including dams, would be shelved. In September he announced plans to sell bonds and to borrow US$300M abroad to meet the budget shortfall. He added that the foreign exchange borrowing would allow three dam schemes to go ahead.

Energy Ministry bonds were scheduled to go on sale to the Iranian public on 15 October, with hopes of raising as much as US$100M.

Meanwhile other dam building for irrigation purposes continues apace in Iran. Some 70 dams are under construction which when operational — all are due to be up and running by the end of the current five-year plan — will yield 20Bm3 of water. The statistics came from Iran’s Deputy Minister for Water Affairs, who was speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the Onligh reservoir dam in Myaneh. Work began at Onligh in early 1996 and it is expected to store water for 400ha of farmland.

Minister Zargar said that by 21 March 1999, the end of the current financial year, seven dams with a capacity of 1250M m3 offering irrigation for 70,000ha would be completed.