Around the Globe: International

Dubai readies power grid

Dubai is preparing itself to join the national power grid after a study by consultants is inked next month said Humaid bin Nasir Al Owais, minister of Electricity and Water.

The northern Emirates are already connected to the grid, said Al Owais in Dubai in February, and a project to connect the other Emirates is being examined.

Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are soon expected to join Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman in the Dh600-650m ($163-176m) project. The consultants’ study will be completed in April, and the project is likely to be put out to tender “four months later”.

Further plans are being made to unite pipelines to Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan. The expansion plans are to coincide with studies carried out by energy officials that stress the importance of meeting set targets to meet the population growth demand.

Al Owais said: “In the Middle East, studies indicate that the power needs are expected to reach 193 000 MW in 2020, of which 116 000 MW is required by the Gulf region and 58 000 MW for Saudi Arabia alone. The UAE at present has 9000 MW and we are expecting another 8000 MW in ten years. “

The ministry is drawing up plans to develop existing power stations and upgrade their capacities.

Enel signs Bulgarian development plan

The new strategic investor in the Bulgarian-based Upper Arda project, Enel Power, signed an agreement with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works and the National Electricity Transmission Company.

The memorandum provides for a joint survey of opportunities for the development of the hydropower project.

Work on the Upper Arda project commenced in 1988 with the signing of an agreement for cooperation in the sphere of infrastructure and electricity production between Bulgaria and Turkey, where the former was bound to export power to Turkey, and the latter was to participate in infrastructure projects on Bulgarian territory.

The Turkish Ceylan Holding was selected to fulfill the contract, which provided for the construction of the cascade on the Arda river and a stretch of the Maritsa highway, but the holding went bankrupt in 2000 and the project was frozen.

The revised agreement distinguished between investor and contractor. Initially, Ceylan was signed as both investor and contractor and had a 30.1 per cent stake in the joint-stock company formed with NEC, but NEC has wanted to reduce Ceylan’s stake to five per cent, since the holding went bankrupt.

Russia connects first geo plant

The first Russian geothermal power plant was launched in Kamchatka earlier this year and is this month awaiting the second 250 MW turbine implementation to complete its 500 MW total capacity.

Russian employees, who will work at the Mutnovsky geothermal plant, were trained in Germany by Siemens, which supplied equipment to the plant.

Following this, Russian defence minister Sergei Ivanov accused Unified Energy Systems of compromising national security as the defiant monopoly unleashed a new wave of power cuts, escalating an already tense stand off with Ivanov’s ministry and other major debtors.

Ivanov met with the president Vladamir Putin to discuss the crisis but no details were disclosed. Ivanov has since met with Anatoly Chubais, UES chief executive, who has previously warned the president that he would not think twice about cutting off the supply of non-paying customers.

He said: “If you want to get through the winter months normally, pay!”

Poland opens western door

Poland’s, so far, unsuccessful attempt to unbundle key power assets to meet liberalization goals could create valuable new opportunities for western power utilities.

Aiming for EU accession in 2004, Poland is obliged to open its electricity and gas markets to competition, in line with EU-wide minimum levels. Along with creating a basic infrastructure of a liberalized market, the Polish government is committed to privatizing much of its energy industry by the end of 2004.

This will not only allow the country to plug some gaping holes in its finances, but will also invite western utilities into the market place, widening the range of options available to the country’s energy users, according to market reports from Datamonitor.

Russia to start electricity trading

Russia’s newly created Trade System Administrator, the power market regulator, is expected to start wholesale electricity trading later this year.

Alexei Gan, a United Energy Systems official said: “Competitive trading of five to 15 per cent of the energy market may be started by the end of the summer.” Gan has also been made deputy CEO of the administrator, ATS.

News digest

Estonia: ABB will build an electric machines plant at Juri in the Rae rural municipality adjoining Tallinn, which will start manufacturing stators and rotors of wind generators for an ABB plant in Helsinki

Gabon: Siemens is installing a $17m maintenance-free decentralised power supply system consisting of a switchgear cubicle for medical stations, village schools, homes and street lighting in Gabon.

Hungary: Lurgi Lentjes Bischoff, specialists in gas cleaning, won a C25.4m ($22.2m) contract for the construction of a new flue gas desulfurization plant in Oroszlany, Hungary.

Iran: Alstom has been awarded an order worth $330m to supply the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) with 50 industrial gas turbine compressor sets to be installed in 18 compressor stations on the IGAT pipeline system for gas transportation within Iran. Alstom will delilver the first 15 units within the next 16 months and will be delivered over the following four years.

Kazakhastan: Belgian tax authorities are pursuing energy group Tractebel for a record tax payment of C149m on payments in Kazakhastan. The problems centre around $55m in payments made to three officials close to Kazakh president Nursultan Nazerbajev.

Kuwait: Nexans, a cable industry company, won a C24m ($21m) for the supply and installation of several underground 132 kV LPOF high voltage cable links in Kuwait City for the Ministry of Electricity and Water.

Russia: Efforts to attract investment to the Russian energy sector have started to yield some results says Anatoliy Chubais, chief executive of UES. He said foreign companies will be able to attend the first tenders on new projects by this year’s third quarter.

Russia: The Russian nuclear power ministry and the regional administration of Saratov have agreed on the construction of the fifth and sixth sets of the Balakovo nuclear power station to be built by 2006 and 2008 respectively.

Slovakia: Nine companies have declared an interest in acquiring the 49 per cent stake on offer in Slovakia’s regional power distribtion companies: ZSE, VSE and SE. These include Belgium’s Electrabel and Germany’s RWE. The Slovak government has said it does not intend to sell the three companies to the same buyer.

South Africa: VA Tech Hydro, a hydropower equipment and services supplier, has been awarded a contract to modernize major equipment at the Drakensberg pumped storage scheme in South Africa.

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