News digest

Abu Dhabi: GE Power Systems has signed a 23-year service contract for the Umm Al Nar power and water plant in Abu Dhabi, valued at more than $200m.

Algeria: Vienna-based VA Tech T&D has won contracts in Algeria totalling g45m ($54m) to supply Sonelgaz and Soneltrach with high voltage products and substations. VA Tech has been awarded eight projects in Algeria in the last two years.

Croatia: At its General Assembly meeting in Croatia, the International Hydropower Association awarded its biannual 2003 Blue Planet Prizes to the Palmiet pumped storage scheme in South Africa and the Salto Caxias hydro plant in Brazil.

Estonia: ABB has been awarded a g4.3m ($5.1m) contract by the Eesti Energia northern grid to refurbish its power plant in the Estonian city of Paide – a strategic power hub in the central part of the republic.

Iceland: VA Tech Hydro has won a contract worth g60m ($72m) to supply equipment for the Kárahnjúkar power plant in Iceland managed by Landsvirkjun, the national utility company.

Iraq: India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals has commissioned a 150 MW gas turbine at the Baiji power plant, 250 km north of Baghdad, Iraq. The $200m project was the largest single order under the UN’s ‘Oil for Food’ programme.

Israel: An agreement has been reached in principle to finance Israel’s first two large privately-owned power stations. The tender to build the two $250m Mishor Rotem power stations is expected to be awarded to Ofer Brothers.

Kazakhstan: Kazakh nuclear company Kazatomprom plans to spend $52.5m to upgrade and expand the Mangyshlak nuclear power complex between 2003 and 2010 to meet the increasing demand for power arising from the region’s industrial development plans.

Montenegro: Siemens is to provide equipment and undertake modernisation of the Perucica hydropower plant, responsible for 23 per cent of Montenegro’s power. Montenegro utility Elektroprivrede Crne Gore will receive international donations to meet the g7.3m ($8.7m) cost.

Oman: India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bharat Heavy Electrical are to form a consortium to compete for Oman’s $1bn power and water desalination project planned for the city of Sohar. The consortium will also include an established local company.

Serbia Montenegro: The European Investment Bank is to provide a g22m ($26m) loan for the modernization of the power control system of EPS, the Serbian Electric Power Company.

Bulgaria outlines sale of distribution companies

Bulgaria is to offer for sale 67 per cent stakes in the country’s seven electricity distribution companies (EDCs) which are to be divided into three pools and sold concurrently in three separate tenders, according to the Bulgarian Privatization Agency.

Only strategic investors bidding for at least 51 per cent in a package will be allowed to participate. Banks and other financial institutions will be allowed to form conditional consortia with the candidates to provide the loans for the acquisition by acquiring the remaining 16 per cent.

Special purpose and offshore companies are ruled out of the bidding as are any company that does not have experience in at least one national market with at least 26.5 per cent liberalization by April 2003. The terms are likely to rule out Russia’s RAO Unified Energy Systems, which has repeatedly stated its interest in the deal, as well as Electricité de France. Indicative bids must be submitted by January 30 2004.

Alstom wins Sudan order

Alstom is to supply electro-mechanical equipment for the Merowe dam project on the river Nile for Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources under a contract valued at g250m ($298m). Alstom is to supply ten hydro turbines and generators, each with an output of 125 MW, the balance of plant, control system and engineering. The scope of the contract includes erection and commissioning.

When completed, the dam will double Sudan’s power generation capacity. The project is due to commence in December 2003 and will be executed over a period of five years. The work will involve Alstom engineering and manufacturing units in Brazil, Switzerland, France and Germany.

Slovenske Elektrarne assets generate interest

Ten investors have so far expressed interest in bidding for Slovakia’s dominant power producer, Slovenske Elektrarne, with several offering to buy both nuclear and conventional assets. The sell-off was reopened earlier this year having failed to attract buyers for the utility’s nuclear assets when launched in 2002. Letters of intent must be submitted by 5 December.

The sale is expected to raise up to g300m ($358m), depending on the extent to which the state will bail out the indebted company. Slovakia is selling at least 49 per cent and management rights in Slovenske Elektrarne. Slovakia’s economy minister, Pavol Rusko, said that the state might sell more than 49 per cent and that an amendment to the large-scale privatization legislation was in parliament awaiting approval.

Favourite for the sale, Czech electricity firm CEZ, said it had submitted its letter of intent. It will compete with Russia’s RAO United Energy Systems with other bidders thought to include British firm, International Power, Austria’s Verbund and Belgian utility Electrabel.

Abu Dhabi chooses Taweelah expansion

Following the decision by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) to cancel a tender to develop the Al Mirfa independent water and power plant (IWPP), the utility has said the country’s fifth IWPP will be the Taweelah B/C project. An expansion is planned for the Taweelah B plant and a new independent power and desalination plant called Taweelah C is planned.

Taweelah C will have a generating capacity of 1000 MW and produce 295.5m l/day of potable water. The existing Taweelah B plant has an installed capacity of 1000 MW and a 409 l/day desalination unit.

Adwea said the Taweelah development would be a combination of a brownfield and greenfield development.

Russia trades

Russia’s new electricity exchange announced its first power trades at market prices, an important step towards deregulation of the market in 2006. Electricity traded at less than the state regulated wholesale rate which showed the effectiveness of the system, an exchange spokesman said.

The market is initially limited to trading 15 per cent of domestic electricity production. Six buyers and seven sellers took part in the first session including energos from several major regions.

Eastern European emissions targeted

The Dutch government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are setting up a g32m ($38.2m) fund to promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in central and eastern Europe. The fund will be used to buy carbon credits arising from projects such as energy-efficiency schemes, for the account of the Netherlands.