International

Czech Republic: Technical problems at the Czech Republic’s disputed new nuclear plant has pushed back the start of its full operation. The Soviet-designed plant, fiercely criticised by Austria as being unsafe, has faced several problems since tests last October.

Hungary: A Hungarian arbitration court has rejected a claim for over $110m against the electricity company MVM by the power generator Bakonyi Eremu. Action was taken to win damages for alleged losses caused by the ending of a long-term power purchase agreement.

Israel: Siemens AG is set to build the first natural gas-fired power station in Israel for the OPC-Ramat Hovav company. Construction of the 370 MW plant is estimated to cost $200m and work is due to start within a year. The unit is set to commence operation in 2004.

Poland: Rolls Royce Power Ventures has acquired a 40 per cent stake in the Polish power generator Energobaltic for $11.7m. The UK group is to participate in the construction of a gas-fired cogeneration plant near the port of Gdansk, generating 11.5 MW of electricity and 18 MW of heat energy. Costing around $35.5m, the plant is scheduled for completion by early 2002.

Turkey: Tekfen of Turkey has signed a contract with Czech company Skoda Energo and Slovakia’s Istroenergo Group for two combined cycle blocks with a combined output of 360 MW valued at around $180m. The facility will be located on a green field site near the city of Yalova, and will be equipped by GE gas turbines.

Qatar: The United Arab Emirates Offsets Group (UOG) has announced its intention to sign a contract with Qatar to build a $10bn Middle Eastern gas network. Known as the Dolphin project, the network will deliver up to 84.9m m3 of gas a day via a pipeline starting in Qatari capital Doha, running through Abu Dhabi, Dubai and on to Oman.

Russia: Russia and Ukraine have agreed terms for the supply of nuclear fuel to Ukrainian nuclear plants in 2001. Energoatom of the Ukraine said the first supplies of fuel will be delivered to Rovne and Yuzhnoukrainsk nuclear stations. Russia has agreed to freeze prices with Energoatom for 2001, spending $209m on nuclear fuel and $57m on the export of nuclear waste to Russia, the same as 2000.

Zambia: Power firms in Zambia and Tanzania are negotiating on the planned construction of a 330 kV interconnector transmission line running from the north-central town of Serenje in Zambia to Mbeya, in southwestern Tanzania. The planners are optimistic that the power connection could later extend to Kenya and Uganda.

Europe

Europe: Siemens Power Generation Group is to construct two turnkey biomass-fired power plants in Germany and Italy under contracts worth a total of DM78m ($35.8m, €40m). Siemens will construct a 6 MW waste wood fired plant near Halle in Germany for Neue Energie Verbund AG. In Italy, it will construct a 10 MW plant in Cisterna di Latina near Rome for independent power producer Idro Company Srl.

France: Nuclear fuels reprocessor Cogema is to appeal against a decision of a Cherbourg tribunal banning the unloading of Australian spent nuclear fuel in Cherbourg. Following the action brought by environmental group Greenpeace, Cogema stated that it had all the required authorizations for the transport, discharge and reception of the waste from the Nuclear Installations Safety Inspectorate.

Germany: Siemens has announced that the Mainz-Wiesbaden combined cycle power plant in Mainz has started commercial operation. The 400 MW plant, operated by Kraftwerke Mainz-Wiesbaden AG, is equipped with three V94.3A gas turbines, and attains an efficiency of 58 per cent.

Italy: The Italian government has sold a five per cent stake in oil and gas company Eni to Italian and international institutional investors in a move aimed at reducing sovereign debt. The sale was the government’s fifth offering of Eni shares since 1995, and reduced its holding to 30 per cent.

The Netherlands: The European Commission has launched a probe into possible competition violations in the Dutch electricity market. It will investigate how capacity on interconnectors linking the Netherlands with Germany and Belgium is allocated. Market players say the auction system used to allocate capacity favours those utilities in Germany and Belgium that control the grids bordering the Netherlands.

UK: The Council for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) has condemned a plan to construct three large wind turbines on the Pembrokeshire coast. The organization said that TXU-Europe’s proposal for erecting three 74 m-high turbines with 24 m blades would have a detrimental impact on the open horizons of the area.

UK: National Grid has awarded a $60m contract to manufacture, install and commission a 20 km, 400 kV, 3-phase underground power cable circuit in London to ABB. As part of National Grid’s plans to upgrade the power grid in north west London, the cable will be one of the longest 400 kV underground cables to be installed in Europe and will use ABB’s cross-linked polyethylene (XPLE) insulation technology.

Asia-pacific

Australia: Hydro-Quebec International and SNC-Lavalin have announced a partnership in the Murraylink project. Each firm is to have a 50 per cent equity interest. The project aims to build a 180 km interconnection linking the grids of Victoria and South Australia.

Bangladesh: UK Trade Minister, Richard Caborn, has expressed support for the Rolls-Royce Power Ventures investment in a 10.9 MW Bangladeshi power plant. Power from the plant, based near Dhaka, is expected to create jobs in the local community. The venture worth $9.33m is backed by the Overseas Investment Insurance scheme, which protects the return on investments made by UK companies against political risks.

International: VA Tech Elin Holec High Voltage, a VA Tech transmission and distribution company, has won its first order from the Civil Aviation Administration to supply one 145 kV gas insulated switchgear substation. The technology is to be used as part of the electrification of the newly built Lahore International Airport. The company also has a new order to supply two 145 kV substations to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority of Thailand.

Japan: Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s recently said its long-term rating on Japan’s power companies, currently identical for all nine leading utilities, could vary in future depending on how they approach industrial deregulation. The agency had lowered its long-term ratings on Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. to AA- from AA. All nine big utilities now have a long-term rating of AA-.

Philippines: State-owned National Power Corporation has finalized a deal worth yen4.24bn ($34.5bn) with Japanese firm Marubeni Corporation to rehabilitate its geo-thermal power plant in Tiwi, Albay. The plant has an installed capacity of 330 MW with six units capable of generating around 55 MW each.

Taiwan: A power blackout forced the shut down of a nuclear power plant in southern Taiwan. While power was restored within two hours, the nuclear plant remained shut in order to conduct safety checks. A spokesman for Tai Power said that the plant went into a category 3A emergency situation. A category four could result in the evacuation of local residents. Opponents of nuclear power said that the densely populated country was ill-equipped to process nuclear waste or to handle accidents.

Vietnam: In the latest of a series of syndicated loans, three domestic commercial banks have agreed to finance the 72 MW, $81.6m Can Don hydropower project located in the province of Binch Phuoc.

Americas

Brazil: Brazil’s new mining and energy minister, Jose Jorge Vasconcelos, is likely to concentrate on reducing Bazil’s electricity shortage. Vasconcelos is expected to reduce energy losses, and encourage the construction of gas-fired power plants and the use of natural gas for industrial purposes.

Canada: Ontario is to deregulate its hydroelectric power market despite the perceived problems experienced in California. Ontario premier Mike Harris has stated that he believes that open, competitive markets help to keep costs low and encourage innovation. Critics believe that there is little interest from the private sector as the deregulation plans have taken so long and electricity debts have risen in the state.

Dominican Republic: AES Aurora has awarded a $140m engineering, procurement and construction contract to ICA Fluor Daniel, a joint venture between Ingenieros Civiles Asociados (ICA) and Fluor Daniel. The contract is to build a power generation plant in the Dominican Republic to resolve the country’s electricity generation problems.

Mexico: The Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has awarded ABB Electricity Metering an $8m contract to support CFE’s new direct access billing structure and help with the verification of power conditions throughout the distribution system. ABB’s ION 8400 billing and power quality meters will be installed in over 1000 of CFE’s substations and 600 key customer sites throughout Mexico.

USA: A new 80 MW wind power project is to be constructed in White Dear near Amarillo, USA. Cielo Wind Power, LLC and Xcel Energy’s Southwestern Public Service Company will develop the project, which will produce the diversified energy that Xcel needs to power homes and business in its 134 680 km2 service area.

USA: Thermal Energy International Inc. has signed a $1.56m contract with American Electric Power (AEP) for the demonstration phase of the Thermalonox nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission control system at AEP’s Conesville, Ohio coal-fired power plant. The Thermalonox is expected to reduce NOx emissions from the coal-fired unit by 75 per cent, and have reduced down times and lower costs than current NOx reduction technology.

Venezuela: The Venezuelan government has resurrected plans to establish a national electricity transmission group to cover the 800 kV, 400 kV and 230 kV lines belonging to Cadafe (Compania Anonima de Administracion y Fomento Electrico) and Edelca (Electrificacion del Caroni). The merger will provide a more reliable energy supply for the country without causing job losses.

Companies

Foley now larger: The merger of Foley and Lardner with Chicago-based Hopkins and Sutter has created one of the USA’s largest legal service companies serving the energy sector. Foley and Lardner provides a wide range of legal services, and the expanded firm will have several hundred attorneys across the USA familiar with the regulatory and non-regulatory needs of energy companies.

Fortum profits: Finnish integrated energy group Fortum reported that high oil prices in 2000 have offset falling electricity margins reporting a 28 per cent rise in earnings. Underlying profits for the year rose from €494m ($447m) to €633m on sales up from €8.2bn to €11bn, in line with analysts estimates.

Furnas reports record: Brazil’s soon-to-be-privatized electricity company, Furnas Centrais Electricas, is expected to report a record net profit of reals629m ($305m) for 2000. The board of directors is yet to confirm the figure which amounts to an increase of 80 per cent on profits in 1999.

Mitsubishi’s new HQ: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America (MHIA) confirmed that it will establish the Western Hemisphere headquarters of its power systems business in Seminole County, Florida, USA. MHIA power systems vice president, Hector Ponce, said that the move showed MHIA’s commitment to serving the diverse needs of the power generation markets of the Americas. He added that the organization had an obligation to be responsive and accessible to the market and to be more supportive to its customers in the region.

PowerGen role split: PowerGen chairman and chief executive Ed Wallis, with support from the board, has decided to split his combined role. He is to retain the position of chairman and be succeed as CEO by Nick Baldwin, currently executive director, UK operations.

Tyco clearer: Tyco International has announced that it will merge its two valve operations together on a global basis. Formerly operating as two separate business units, Tyco Valves and Controls and Tyco Engineered Products will merge to form the largest single valve operation in the world. Philippe Meyer, President of Tyco said that the move was essential in order to capitalise on the group’s strengths while improving the clarity with which clients view the operation.

Vattenfall profit drop: The Swedish energy group, Vattenfall, has announced a 15 per cent fall in underlying profits for 2000. The group, which has been expanding rapidly into Germany, has cited low Nordic electricity prices and investments as the main reason for the fall. Pretax profits amounted to $327m, against $386m in 1999.