State-run Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) <5110.SE> has invited bidders for a 2,000 megawatt power plant project in Riyadh as part of efforts to meet soaring demand, a senior company official said on Saturday.

The combined cycle plant project in the Saudi capital will start its first phase of operation by 2012, Amr Aswaha, head of projects for independent power projects (IPP), told Reuters.

Bidding ends in December with a decision expected in March 2010, he added, without giving details.

Saudi Electricty, the largest Gulf utility by market value, is trying to satisfy a demand for power that has soared sharply in the past two years as many infrastructure projects are underway.

Separately, SEC signed a contract on Saturday with a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) <015760.KS> to build the 1,200 megawatt Rabigh fuel-oil fired power plant.

Funding for the 9.5 billion riyal ($2.53 billion) project will be provided by a consortium of banks led by Alinma Bank <1150.SE> which expects to contribute about $500 million, said Abdulmohsen al-Fares, the bank's chief executive officer.

Other banks include Bank of China <601988.SS> <3988.HK>, Calyon , HSBC , National Commercial Bank , Banque Saudi Fransi <1050.SE>, Samba Financial Group <1090.SE> and Standard Chartered , Saudi Electricity said in a statement.

The power consortium includes Saudi's ACWA Power International and will deliver electricity to SEC under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) over 20 years. SEC will have 20 percent of the project.

The plant will be built in two phases, the first of which will deliver 600 megawatts by 2012 while the next 600 megawatts will be delivered by 2013.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Anthony Barker)

($1=3.750 Saudi Arabian Riyal)