South Africa nuclear plant gets ‘green’ go-ahead

The South African government has given the go ahead to construct a 110 MW nuclear, pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) near Cape Town. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) permitted the project, which will be the first of its kind in the world.

The PBMR project is backed by the state owned power utility, Eskom, which has held talks with several international companies that have expressed an interest in the project. It is the second nuclear plant in South Africa but has yet to receive approval from the National Nuclear Regulator.

The project has been in development since 1993 as part of a programme to export small power stations globally.

Eskom, which has partnered with South African Industrial Development Corporation and the UK’s British Nuclear Fuels for the construction of the plant, reaffirmed it was ready to proceed to the next stage subject to the additional permits required.

News digest

Algeria: SNC-Lavalin Constructors International has been awarded two contracts by Shariket Kahraba Skikda, one for nearly $600m, to design and build a 723 MW combined cycle power plant in the Skikda region of Algeria, and the other to operate and maintain the plant. Shariket Kahraba Skikda is owned by three companies belonging to the Algerian government: Sonatrach, Sonelgaz and the Algerian Energy Company.

Egypt: Emerson Process Management, an Emerson business, announced that it has won a $16m contract to modernize the Ataka thermal power station in the Suez region of Egypt using its plantweb digital plant architecture.

Kenya: Kenya is expected to more than double its geothermal energy capacity when a third station begins producing 64 MW of geothermal power by October this year. Kenya currently produces 57 MW of geothermal power in two other plants, Ol Karia I and Orpower, in Naivasha, some 140 km from Nairobi.

Kuwait: The Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development has said that it has given Tunisia a $100m loan to develop its electricity power network. Under the agreement, Tunisia will have 22 years, including a five-year grace period, to repay the loan at an annual interest rate of 4.5 per cent.

Russia: Lenenergo finally arranged a long-awaited credit from the EBRD. Most of the g40m credit is to be received this year with the rest in 2004 and the whole sum should be spent on completing reconstruction of the TES-5 power station.

Russia: Russia will sell 40 per cent of Siberian electricity utility Irkutskenergo in 2004, in one of the most significant privatization sales of recent years. It is independent from national power monopoly UES.

Slovakia: The Slovak government agreed to allow the Czech Republic’s main energy utility CEZ to enter a tender selling a controlling stake in Slovakia’s dominant electricity maker Slovenske Elektrarne. Slovakia is offering to offload a 49 per cent stake and management control in SE and it got eight bids in the preliminary round of the tender.

UAE: The Oman government is planning to augment Oman’s electricity generation capacity to 3260 MW by the end of the sixth five-year plan period in 2006, up from 2268 MW at the end of 2002. A new 500 MW, 30 mgd desalination power plant in Sohar is targeting a 2006 operational date.

Share swap deal agreed

A share holding swap deal involving regional utilities belonging to both Germany’s E.ON and the Czech Republic’s CEZ has been inked by both companies.

E.ON will receive a 35 per cent share in its JME utility asset that previously belonged to CEZ on top of the 45 per cent it owned before the deal, bringing its ownership stake to 80 per cent. In return CEZ will receive minority stakes in regional utilities ZCE and VCE. E.ON will also have a 48 per cent share in JCE. Both of E.ON’s acquired assets have a 24 per cent share of the Czech electricity market.

Further, E.ON will attempt to buy at least three per cent of the remaining shareholders of JCE to obtain a majority holding. Part of the overall deal included an option allowing E.ON to give its minority stakes in regional utilities SME (30.3 per cent) and SCE (5.9 per cent) to CEZ.

Switchgear contract awarded

Russia’s UES has awarded ABB a $22m contract to supply high voltage gas insulated switch-gear for the Bureyskaya hydropower plant in east Russia. The contract is ABB’s largest ever for power technology equipment in Russia.

The project will mean ABB will undertake supply and implementation of 500 kV gas insulated switchgear for the 2000 MW plant. Operation is expected by 2004 and will enable power transmission from the plant across eastern Russia.

Egypt secures power loans

Egypt has secured two loans that will see the country benefit with a power plant, substation and a transmission line.

The first G150m loan is from the European Investment Bank for the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) for construction of the second module gas-fired Nubariya power plant. The second loan, from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation ($42.3m), will support the Cairo Alexandria Transmission System Project, which involves the procurement for two construction projects, the Sidi Krir Substation in Alexandria, and a 500 kV transmission line that will stretch 230 km from the Sidi Krir substation to the Cairo station.

Partners finance Abu Dhabi deal

International Power and its partners have completed the financing for the acquisition and expansion of the 1550 MW Umm Al Nar power and water plant in Abu Dhabi.

The partners, comprising Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Mitsui, secured a $1.77bn package, the largest in the Middle East this year. The financing structure comprises two non-recourse loans of $100m, a 20 year loan and a $230m five-year term loan with a $440m equity bridge facility. The entire output of the plant will be sold to Abu Dhabi Water and Electric Company) under a 23 year power purchase agreement.

Mott MacDonald was recently awarded a three-year contract to become the owner’s engineer for the plant.

Japan teams with Russia to build 5 GW power plant

Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and Russia’s UES are aiming to do business together by installing a $8.4bn, 5000 MW power plant on Sakhalin Island in Russia.

The project will include a subsea cable that will supply Siberia and Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido with power. The target date for completion is 2010.

Japan’s Marubeni, a shareholder in the Sakhalin Oil & Gas Development Co, has been invited to take part in the project but is cautious of the economic implications. Both companies are expected to secure natural gas as the main fuel either from Exxon Mobil (which has an investment in the Sakhalin 1 offshore oil and gas project) or the Sakhalin 2 gas project led by Royal Dutch/Shell Group.