An empirical study investigating the main causes


of delay in power transmission construction

projects in Saudi Arabia



By Mosab Elbashir MSc, PE, PMP, CQE ASQ

Saudi Arabia

  1. Abstract

Delay in power transmission projects is a global problem. Within the Saudi construction market, time overrun seems to be a chronic issue.

This study aims to identify the major causes of delay in power transmission construction projects in Saudi Arabia and rank them based on their importance. The goal is to identify major causes of delay within this industry and propose recommendations to overcome these issues. This will help project management practitioners to focus their effort in managing the most critical causes of delay. It will aid the project team to prepare a realistic time schedule and handle delay risks properly.

First, the study identified 29 causes of delay through literature review. Second, a questionnaire survey of 42 experts in power transmission projects in Saudi Arabia is conducted and 41 valid responses are collected. Based on the survey output, the top causes of delay are determined and ranked based on the importance index.  The top ranked overall causes are Right of Way problems, frequent transmission lines route changes, drawing/design related problems, late delivery of material, approval process for project documents and drawings, as well as the owner representatives identify accessibility to project location and shortage of labors as critical factors too.

Keywords: Power transmission projects, project delay, time overrun, schedule delay, construction management, project management, Saudi Arabia

  1. Introduction

2.1 Background

There are three main components comprised of the power sector: generation, transmission, and distribution (Pall et al., 2016). Power transmission grid is the link between the power generation and the distribution systems, without this link the system is not going to work. Therefore, the delay in completing the power transmission projects leads to disabling the whole power system. Power transmission projects are usually located in remote areas, away from facilities and services such as electrical and water supplies, that is why careful planning is required (Pall et al., 2019). Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is the only utility company that provide electricity in Saudi Arabia. The transmission network in Saudi Arabia span more than 90,000 circular KM, covering more than 13000 cities and villages, NG manages fix assets that value more than 160 billion Saudi Riyal (43 billion USD) (SEC: NG, 2022).

In the context of Saudi Arabia, the power transmission construction projects go through chain of processes that can be summarized as:

  • identifying the grid requirement,
  • project approval,
  • bidding and contract award,
  • design phase,
  • construction phase,
  • commissioning,
  • handover to operation team.

A typical power transmission project is:

  • construction of a substation,
  • overhead transmission line (OHTL),
  • underground cables line or mix of all these elements.

2.2 Problem statement and objectives

Projects delay is a frequent problem within the construction industry in Saudi Arabia (Al‐Kharashi and Skitmore, 2009). In fact, the delay of the power transmission project is a global problem (Pall et al., 2019). This issue has a significant impact on the project performance and can hinder the ability to capture the economic value of these projects. Therefore, it is particularly important to identify the major causes of delay and prioritize them in the context of Saudi Arabia. The goal is to help the stakeholders who are involved in these projects to: prepare a realistic time schedule, avoid the potential causes of delay, pay close attention to the most critical causes, and subsequently deliver the projects on time.

The scope of this study covers the power transmission construction projects in Saudi Arabia and the main objectives are:

  • Gathering a comprehensive list of the main factors behind the delay in the construction projects based on the literature review
  • Identification of the top causes of project delay in power transmission projects in Saudi Arabia
  • Rank the top causes based on importance
  • Provide recommendations on how to overcome and mitigate these causes.


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How to cite this paper: Elbashir, M. (2023). An empirical study investigating the main causes of delay in power transmission construction projects in Saudi Arabia; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/pmwj132-Aug2023-Elbashir-investigating-delays-in-transmission-construction-projects.pdf

About the Author

Eng. Mosab Elbashir

Saudi Arabia


Eng. Mosab Elbashir, MSc, PMP, PE, CQE ASQ, Professional civil engineer and project management expert with 20 years of experience. Graduated from University of Khartoum (Sudan), faculty of engineering, civil engineering department in 2003 (BSc). Obtained Master degree from Lund University (Sweden) in Water Resources in 2007, and Master degree in Engineering Management from University of Leeds (UK) in 2022. He has CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership from Chartered Management Institute. Also, he is certified quality engineer from American Society of Quality (CQE ASQ) and professional project manager (PMP –PMI). Currently works as a project management consultant with Saudi Electricity Company in Saudi Arabia since 2012. Interested in projects management. For more information, please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/mosab-elbashir-44595a64/

Mosab can be contacted at mosab_555@hotmail.com