Macapagal manoeuvres on Philippines reform bill

New Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced on February 7, 2001 that the Power Sector Reform Bill (PSRB) will be considered as one of her government’s priority measures. A week earlier she had declined to support its early passage through Congress.

The reform measures, designed to privatize the state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor) and restructure the power industry, now look likely to be passed on or before the May elections.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Dante Canlas, said that the “PSRB should be enacted in this Congress but with some reservations, taking into consideration current concerns on the compositions of the bill”.

In a press briefing on power reform he added that delays in the passage of the bill might lead to serious power problems by 2005. Earlier, Napocor announced that it would pursue its reorganization regardless of the bill’s passage.

Power barge sets sail

The world’s largest barge-mounted composite thermoelectric power plant has set sail for Mangalore, India.

Built by Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HEC) and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co., the barge is composed of four 46.6 MW gas turbines, one 53 MW steam turbine and four sets of boilers. Built upon a flat vessel measuring 110 m x 56 m, the plant can generate up to 228 MW, enabling it to supply electricity to a large town.

HEC is reported to have recieved an initial payment of $62m from India’s Tanir Bavi Power Company (TBT). The barge, worth $160m, is set to reach Mangalore in March and begin supplying electricity in late July following test operations.

Barge-mounted plants have a high degree of mobility, short construction times and low costs. HEC officials said they expect a growth in demand for such plants, with projects planned for power markets in Africa, and Central and South America.

International Power eyes Thailand for acquisitions

UK based power company International Power plc has announced intentions to increase its presence in Thailand by stepping up on mergers and acquisitions to add to its existing $90m investment in a gas-fired power project.

Chairman Sir Neville Simms spoke of plans during a recent visit to Bangkok, noting that there are few opportunities for new power projects. He said International Power was looking for opportunities in line with its investment criteria, adding that there were no specific goals for acquisitions in Thailand, “although it is preferable to have more than one plant.”

Quake villages are re-connected

Since the devastating earthquake hit the Indian State of Gujurat on 26 January 2001, Minister for Power, Shri Suresh Prabhu has been camping in the state to coordinate central government assistance to restore power supply to affected areas. His first move was to rush 100 technical and supervisory persons and 15 diesel generating sets to restore power to essential services.

Prabhu met with the Gujarat State Energy Minister and detailed an action plan for short-term and long-term power restoration. A decision was made to supply power to affected villages to run emergency services.

More than 80 per cent of the villages in Gujurat were affected by the quake that has killed up to 15 000 people. Ten days later, some 750 villages out of the 925 affected reported that their their power supply had been restored. Nuclear plants in the region are said to be safe though inspections are currently underway to check for faults.

Taiwan makes u-turn on fourth nuclear plant

An announcement made on 5 February 2001 by Taiwan’s ruling party suggests that it has now backed down from its hard-line anti-nuclear stance, saying that it would not oppose restarting construction of a nuclear power plant.

In October 2000 the president’s party unilaterally cancelled the $5.4bn nuclear project, Taiwan’s fourth, starting months of political turbulence.

A week earlier the opposition, which controls parliament, passed a resolution demanding that the government reinstate the 2700 MW plant approved by the legislature of the former National Party government. Polarizing debate and paralyzing top officials, the dispute threatened to topple the government at one stage. A spokesman for President Chen Shui-bian’s party said it revised its move for the sake of political stability and economic growth.

Correction: In PEi January 2001, the news story ‘South Korea opens door to ABB’ was incorrectly titled and should have read ‘North Korea opens door to ABB’.

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