Power Machines deal fails

The bid by Germany’s Siemens for an increased stake in Russian power equipment group Power Machines Group looks set to be blocked by the Russian Anti-Monopoly Service, due to the sensitive nature of defence-related manufacturing interests.

Siemens had bid $215m for a 35 per cent interest in Power Machines Group through a 50-50 joint venture with Interros. Siemens already owns 4.4 per cent of Power Machines, so the deal would in effect give it a 40 per cent holding. The deal, which appeared to have the backing of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, was to have required spin-off of the strategic Kaluga Turbine plant to ease concerns about a foreign company taking a position in a Russian defence industry.

However, in a recent statement, Industry and Energy Minister Victor Khristenko said that further investigation had revealed that the Power Machines business involved sensitive technology at almost all levels and that the spin-off of defence-related plants was impossible. Basic Element is now favourite to buy the Interros stake.

Israel plans solar IPP

Israel is investigating options for the development of a 100 MW solar power plant, to be operated as an independent power plant (IPP). The Ministry of National Infrastructures of Israel said the proposed IPP would sell power to the Israel Electric Corporation and has asked for expressions of interest and proposals for suitable technologies from experience developers.

The plant would be built with an initial installed capacity of 100 MW but with the possibility of expansion to 500 MW. Fossil fuel would be used as a back-up for approximately 30 per cent.

With no fossil fuel resources of its own, an annual incident solar irradiance of about 200 kWh per square metre and 70 per cent of its territory made up of desert, Israel is well suited to exploiting solar energy and has been prominent in the field of solar energy research.

Dutch buy Bulgarian credits

A European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)-backed biomass project has resulted in a trade of carbon credits between Bulgaria’s Paper Factory Stambolijski (PFS) and the Netherlands Emissions Reduction Co-operation Fund. By switching from oil and gas to bark and other renewable materials from the papermaking process to fuel its boilers, the mill expects to cut its carbon dioxide and methane emissions by about 360 000 tonnes by 2012.

The trade is in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol and is the first undertaken by the EBRD for the Dutch Fund, which it manages. Once the €5m ($6.5m) switch to biomass is complete, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions reductions will be independently verified and the carbon credits generated. The biomass project not only generates carbon credit cash for the mill but the energy savings should translate into greater profits for the mill, which is jointly owned by the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation.

RAO spins-off regional companies

Since the turn of the year, Russian power group RAO UESR has obtained state registration for the spin-off of 16 of its regional energy companies bringing the total number now established as separate entities to 21.

The companies registered from 1 January were: Vladimirenergo, Volgogradenergo, Ivenergo, Karelenergo, Kostromaenergo, Marienergo, Penzaenergo, Udmurtenergo and Chuvashenergo.

In the following phase, Astrakhanenergo, Lipetskenergo, Rostovenergo, Ryazanenergo, Tambovenergo, Tverenergo and Yarenergo, completed the process of reorganization.

According to RAO UESR’s restructuring plan, the spin-offs follow lines of business – electricity generation and transmission retailing – with the companies’ ownership structure preserved.

Taweelah B advances

Abu Dhabi has chosen an international consortium led by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and BTU Power of the USA to develop its latest IWPP, the $1.69bn Taweelah B project – part of its ongoing programme of power sector privatization. The project involved the acquisition of the existing 1070 MW, 455 million litre per day (l/d) B station and expansion on a build-operate basis to take output up to 2000 MW and 727 million l/d.

The project is owned by two holding companies: Al-Taweelah United Power will hold the government’s 60 per cent stake and the Asia-Gulf Power Holding Company will own the balance. The Asian consortium has nominated Siemens and Fisia Italimpianti as engineering, procurement and construction contractors. Lead financier is the Japan Bank for International Co-operation which is providing $1.2bn of the $2.5bn borrowing required.

Kenya connections

A $14.3m transmission project connecting Kenya’s Seven Forks hydro station to Nairobi has been completed. The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the East Africa Development Bank co-financed the construction of the 148 km long Kiambere-Nairobi 220 kV transmission line and associated substations.

KPLC is also spending Sh146m ($188m) on new and upgraded substations and 3.7 km of 66 kV line in and around Nairobi, in order to improve power supplies.

News digest

Algeria: State power company Sonelgaz has awarded a $25m turnkey contract to ABB for the upgrade of substations in and around the capital Algiers, in order to improve electricity supply.

Bahrain: Dubai-based Power Developments International FZCO has secured a $10m turnkey contract to build the second phase of a 23 MW gas turbine plant at the Hidd Industrial area in Bahrain.

Iran: Iran has started construction of a 142 km gas pipeline to Armenia, due to be completed in late 2006. As part of the project, two HV transmission lines are to be built enabling Armenia to export up to 1000 MW to Iran.

Iran: Iran’s Water and Energy Development Company announced that two 250 MW units of the $750m Karun-3 dam and power plant will be put into operation before the end of March, boosting national hydroelectric power generation by 36 per cent.

Iran: Nominal capacity of Iran’s power plants will reach 36 000 MW in 2005, a 60 per cent increase over the last eight years. The country’s first private sector power plant, Chehelsotun of Isfahan, is due to be inaugurated this year.

Morocco: German bank KFW is to loan €50m ($65.2m) to the Moroccan National Office of Electricity (ONE) to finance a 60 MW wind park to be situated in Cap Sim, 15 km south of Essaouira, scheduled for completion in late 2006.

Slovakia: The Slovakian government has reportedly postponed talks with Italy’s Enel over the sale of a 67 per cent stake in the Slovakian electricity company. Technical and legal problems were blamed for the delay, although the government has confirmed it remains strongly in favour of selling to the Italian utility.

Tajistan: Russian power group RAO UES is to commence work on the Sangtuda hydroelectric plant in Tajikistan this year. It also plans to start building a hydroelectric plant at Kambarata in Kyrgyzstan.

Tanzania: CEIS Tanzania is to lease two gas turbine generators with total capacity of 45 MW to replace one purchased last year, which sunk into the sea off South Africa. Poor hydro conditions have meant a greater reliance on gas turbines, which now account for 358 MW out of a total demand of 500 MW.

UAE: A consortium comprising Saudi Arabia’s Arabian Bemco Contracting and Germany’s Siemens has been awarded the EPC contract to undertake the 400 MW extension of the Al-Aweer H power station in Dubai. The contract, valued at AED 801m ($218m), is set for completion by the summer of 2006.