G8 pressures Russia for guarantees on gas supply

Russia has come under pressure from the world’s leading finance ministers to provide guarantees over its future energy supplies at a recent G8 meeting held in Moscow.

Tensions over Russia’s future supply intentions have been running high since January when Gazprom briefly suspended its supply of natural gas to the Ukraine and parts of Western Europe.

Ministers from Europe called for the country to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty it signed, along with 50 other countries, in the 1990s. The Charter was drawn up to guarantee free movement of energy supplies.

However, two months into its spell of holding G8 Presidency, Russia does not appear likely to make a hastened decision and talks are set to continue.

Alexi Kudrin, Russia’s finance minister, said at the end of the meeting: “If Russia were to ratify the charter, Gazprom may have to allow smaller local producers access to its huge pipeline network and the country would have to open up its energy business to foreign oil and gas companies.”

First of its kind solar plant to be built in Egypt

The world’s first integrated solar combined cycle power plant is to be built in Egypt after the Japan Bank for International Cooperation agreed to loan the country’s government over $90m to fund the project.

The 150 MW power plant, to be constructed 100 km south of Cairo in the Kuraymat district, is part of Egypt’s plan to have 3 per cent of its installed capacity generated from renewable energy sources by 2011.

This figure of 880 MW will be used to help meet power demand in the country that has been growing at an annual rate of 7 per cent in recent years. The government appears to favour renewable energy as a solution to ease peak hour demand supply restrictions and cut pollution levels.

GE to expand Tunisian plant

GE Energy is to supply a Frame 9E turbine and maintenance services for the Thyna II power plant, located 10 km from Sfax, Tunisia’s second largest city.

To be fuelled primarily by natural gas, the turbine will produce 123 MW of power in simple cycle operation for the extension of a power plant owned and operated by the Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas.

In addition, GE has signed a ten-year maintenance contract that will see it provide spare parts, repairs and field services. Availability and gas turbine performance degradation guarantees are also included in the agreement.

GE will ship the turbine to the project site from its manufacturing facility in Belfort, France, in the fourth quarter of this year. It is expected to enter commercial operation in June 2007.

Alstom’s Gulf orders hit $1bn

Alstom has won a $240m contract for the turnkey construction of a 430 MW power plant in Dubai, taking its total orders in the region, excluding Saudi Arabia, to $1bn since April 2005.

The latest contract, awarded by Dubai Aluminium Company, will see the French firm supply two of its GT13E2 gas turbines for the natural gas fired combined cycle power plant. It will also provide three generators, a steam turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, a digital control system and balance of plant.

The aluminium company is currently expanding two of its nine smelting potlines at its plant and needs more power for the production process. The new plant will be completed by the end of 2007.

Two fume treatment centres have been incorporated into the design to decrease the fluoride and particulate emissions produced in the aluminium production process.

Bahrain sells plant to international consortium

A consortium made up from the French company Suez Energy International, British firm International Power and Sumitomo Corporation from Japan have signed a 20-year purchase contract in Bahrain that will see them take ownership of a desalination plant.

The Al Hidd independent power and water project in Bahrain currently has a power output of 910 MW from its combined cycle power plant. It also produces 113 600 m3 of water per day.

Under the 20-year power and water purchase agreement with the country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water, the consortium will assume ownership of the existing plant as well as take responsibility for building a desalination expansion with a capacity of 227 100 m3 of water per day by the end of 2007. The consortium expects the total cost of the deal to reach $1.25bn.

News digest

Bosnia and Herzegovina: After an initial €100 000 ($120 100) grant from the Greek government, the EBRD is to provide a 15-year loan of €55m to fund projects to modernize the electricity distribution infrastructure across the country.

Bulgaria: The EBRD has accepted E.ON Energie’s invitation of acquiring a stake in two Bulgarian electricity distribution companies. The bank purchased an 8 per cent stake from E.ON Energie’s 67 per cent holding at a total cost of €16.8m ($20.2m).

Ethiopia: A national power supply programme will see $495m invested over the next five years to increase the country’s installed generation capacity from 640 MW to 4000 MW.

Georgia: After a spate of pipeline blasts the country’s president has vowed to import more natural gas from Central Asia in an attempt to reduce its dependence on supplies from Russia.

Georgia: International companies have been invited to bid for the country’s state owned electricity distribution company and its smaller hydropower plants. The government aims to raise $119m by privatizing its assets.

Hungary: The country’s planning authority has approved the construction of a €6m ($7.2m) biogas power plant in the northwest region of Tatabanya that will generate 2-3 MW of electricity when it enters trial operation early next year.

Morocco: Endesa is to build two natural gas fired combined cycle power plants with a combined capacity of 800 MW. Endesa will invest a total of €400m ($480m) in the two projects.

Poland: The state owned utility CEZ has acquired majority stakes in the Polish energy companies, Skawina and Elcho. The company is reportedly also interested in acquiring other generation companies within the country.

Romania: A $359m high-voltage undersea cable capable of transmitting 600 MW of electricity is to be constructed between Romania and Turkey. Romania will invest around €150m ($180m) in the project.

Tajikistan: Russian company Power Machines has won a $80m contract to supply the main power generating equipment for the first three 167.5 MW units of the Santudinskaya hydropower project.

Turkey: Voith Siemens is to supply two 59.3 MW vertical Francis turbines as well as other related equipment to the Dalaman Akköprü hydroelectric power plant.

UAE: The Dutch company NEM bv has contracted GE Energy to supply its first distributed control system in Egypt to the Cairo North 2800 MW combined cycle power plant.