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By Jim Kenny.A contract to build a £500 million power and desalination plant in Bahrain is set to go to British Gas, according to trade minister Richard Needham.British Gas has already carried out a technical and financial feasibility study into the project, which it presented to the Bahraini government last February.The proposal for a privately-financed 500 MW power plant was first announced by leading Bahraini businessmen in March 1993. British Gas was appointed to carry out the feasibility study shortly afterwards by the country's electricity and water ministry.Mr Needham threw his weight behind a British Gas bid to build and operate the plant on a three-day trade mission to the country last week. Among the others on the trip were Costain's Wob Gerretsen and Mowlem's Malcolm Wardlaw.Mr Needham said the scheme had the full support of the Government and that he hoped the deal would be signed shortly to make it Britain's flagship project in the region.News reports from the region have also said that the trade minister has offered to send the chairman of Northern Ireland Electricity, David Jeffries, to the region to advise on the consumer aspects of the scheme.Bahrain has a number of major construction projects on the drawing board at the moment, including a £200 million port development scheme at Hidd and a £90 million expansion project for a plant owned by the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company.Mr Needham has said that there will be opportunities for UK firms of all sizes to get involved in projects such as Bahrain's downstream aluminium industries.Shopping malls, hotels and offices are also in the pipeline.If all goes well, British Gas could see work start on the new power plant before the end of this year with a projected construction schedule putting completion some three years later. CONSTRUCTION NEWS