Russia goes ahead with reform despite Duma delay

The Russian government has decided to go ahead with plans to reform the power sector without backing from the state Duma, which wants to delay legislation until later in the year.

The government is under pressure to lay down the legislation before year-end and the fact that the Duma has postponed its input until autumn might delay the construction of new projects. The Duma has made clear its intentions to create a working group, including government officials, the Duma and the Federation Council, to prepare bills for the next session.

UES and E.ON have signed a feasibility study for the joint construction of a 450 MW gas-powered generation plant at the existing Shchyokinskaya GRES, a 620 MW plant in the Tula Region.

RWE cashes in on Slovak utility sale

RWE Plus has purchased a 49 per cent stake in Slovak state utility, Vychodoslovenska Energetika (VSE) for a sum estimated to be $128.5m.

The deal was signed on May 22. VSE supplies 4.6 TWh of electricity a year to its 600 000 strong customer base, which equates to 22 per cent of the market. E.ON, RWE’s German rival, has also acquired a 49 per cent share of state utility Zapodoslovenska Energetika (ZSE). The deal was struck on the same day as RWE and is reported to be worth around €330m ($326m).

Elsewhere in the country, Electricité de France has acquired a 49 per cent stake, bringing its overall control to 51 per cent, in state distributor Stredoslovenska Energetika for $156.2m. All three deals are part of deregulation plans.

Enel seeks Romanian joint venture projects

Enel is looking to tap the Romanian market with a $400m joint venture bid for five projects to complete eight power plants owned by Romania’s second largest energy producer, Hidroelectrica.

The combined power capacity of the projects is an estimated 300 MW, and they are to be situated on the Olt, Strei and Siret rivers. Romania launched a 21-project list last year, which targeted the majority of its 36 unfinished power plants in a bid to attract private investments totalling $1.3bn.

Interested parties include Electricité de France, Union Fenosa, RWE and Japan’s Itochu, Toshiba and Kansai. The unfinished plants were built in the 1980s, but were never completed due to lack of funds.

Lithuania pinpoints closure date

The Lithuanian state has decided on a date to close down the world’s largest nuclear power plant after receiving guarantees from the European Union to share decommissioning costs.

The Ignalina power plant was constructed to the same design as the Chernobyl power station, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. The plant has no safety measures to contain radiation in case of a similar accident.

In 1999, the country decided to close the first block of the plant by 2005, and the decision was ratified by parliament in 2000. The government has now agreed to EU demands that the second block be shut down by 2009.

Energy experts in the country believe the cost of the shutdown could run up to $8bn over 20 years.

BVI studies South African plant

Black & Veatch International (BVI), a subsidiary of Black and Veatch, has been selected by the Rainbow Millennium Power Company (RMPC) to write a feasibility study for the first greenfield power station in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The 240 MW coal-fired plant will use discard coal as fuel. It will be able to sell surplus emission reduction units in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. Upon completion the plant will be connected to the

132 kV electricity grid of Umhlatuze.

Mitsubishi wins DEWA contract

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has given a consortium led by Mitsubishi a DH94m ($26m) contract to design, construct and commission three 132/11 kV substations in the Emirate.

The project is scheduled to be operational by April 2004, taking into account a two-month reliability run. The three substations will be constructed in Hudheiba, Hadeeqa and Ittihad. The consortium comprises Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

Officials at Dewa are keen to see the project completed on schedule. The Japanese concern has worked with Dewa before at Al Aweer for the L station project which has been delayed by a month and is expected to close by month-end.

The L project will add 700 MW of power and a 318m l/day of desalinated water to Dubai’s existing utility sector. The first phase will be ready by the end of 2003.

News digest

Albania: Officials of the Albanian Ministry of Industry and power have stated that roughly 83 local hydropower stations will be privatized as part of the effort to modernize Albania’s energy sector. The government has already granted a concession to an Italian company for a hydropower plant in Smokthina.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: ZECK, the joint power coordination centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), has placed a g1m ($1m) contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff to provide an energy management system and telecommunication upgrade project. The project will include a new national control centre, three regional centres and remote monitoring and automation equipment at 120 high voltage substations.

Georgia: Georgia plans to sell nearly all its electricity plants to foreign companies in order to overcome a decade of chronic energy shortages. Severe shortages have hit Georgia since it became independent in 1991.

Latvia: The European Investment Bank is lending €80m ($81m) to Latvia’s power company SJSC Latvenergo to upgrade a combined heat and power plant in Riga along with the transmission and distribution networks throughout Latvia.

Romania: A Finnish-German-Japanese concern is carrying out a comprehensive retooling worth €66m ($67m) at the fourth largest electric power producer in Romania, CET Minitia Deva. The majority of funds will come from the World Bank. The retooling, to be undertaken by Fortum, Alstom and Itochu, will increase the unit’s power from 210 MW to 225 MW.

Russia: After 16 years of delay, the Russian nuclear programme is about to get a boost. Rising energy demand has led government officials to look into the development of new nuclear reactors to help increase power supplies.

Slovenia: The Slovenian government has decided to offer Croatia half the electricity generated by the jointly-owned Krsko nuclear plant (NEK) despite delays in ratifying an agreement on joint ownership. The power will be offered at €29.7/MWh ($30/MWh).

Tunisia: The European Investment Bank is to lend €150m ($152m) to the Societe Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz to finance an upgrade of Tunisia’s electricity transmission network and to improve infrastructure management.

UAE: Mott MacDonald has been appointed engineer by Dubai Aluminium Company for its refurbishment programme at Dubai’s smelter complex at Jebel Ali. The project, dubbed Kestrel, will add a further 350 MW of combined cycle power to the existing power facility.