Around the Globe-International

Ukraine rejects EBRD’s package for K2R4 plant

The Ukraine government has rejected a $215m loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) due to an ‘unacceptable’ term to fund its K2R4 nuclear station.

The completion of the two reactors at Rivne and Khmenlnytskyy is expected to cost $500m but the snag-issue, implemented by the bank, was raising tariffs by 35 per cent to repay the loan. Anatoliy Kinakh, Ukrainian premier, indicated that he would now turn to Russia for a cheaper loan.

Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine president, said his country is also looking at the possibility of negotiating with the West but is wary of the West’s over-estimation of project costs. He disapproved of EBRD’s demand to raise tariffs in Ukraine as it would lead to ‘eternal slavery’. He said: “Now that the world economy is slowing down, our major and most energy-consuming industries have reached a break-even point of their profitability. If we raise the tariffs, this will bring Ukrainian industry to ruin.”

Austria to block Czech admission to the EU over nuclear plant

The Austrian state has made clear that the Czech republic could jeopardize its chances of joining the the European Union (EU) if it goes ahead in rebuilding sections of the controversial Temlin nuclear power plant.

The Austrian coalition government, consisting of Wolfgang Schuessel’s People Party and Susanne Riess-Passer’s freedom party are at loggerheads due to Schuessel accepting assurances from the Czech premier Jan Zeman, about the safety of the plant at a meeting in Brussels. Riess-Passer was not satisfied with the agreement explaining it was “not enough”. She threatened to veto Czech accession into the EU over the nuclear plant safety issue, adding that she could not imagine that operating the plant was more important to the Czechs than joining the EU.

It is estimated that the project, which is 60 km from the Austrian border, will cost between $133m to $266m to meet the 73 safety requirements that were suggested by the International Atomic Energy Agency five years ago. So far, only 67 measures have been met while the others are being dismissed by the Czechs as “not essential” to the safety of the plant.

AES dots Ras Laffan loan

US-based AES has inked a $572m bank loan for a 750 MW gas-fired, combined cycle cogeneration and 151.4m l/day water desalination plant.

The sole purchaser of the electric and water output will be the state-owned electric and water distribution organization, Kahramaa, under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Undertaking construction will be Italian power outfits, Enel Power and Fisia Italimpianti. The plant is expected to be fully operational by mid 2004.

Lead arrangers, ANZ Investment Bank and Arab Banking Corporation, syndicated the deal with a mixture of eight international and regional banks.

Meanwhile, CMS Energy and International Power completed the $1.6bn joint venture financing for the 1500 MW power and 378.5m l/day water desalination Shuweihat S1 project. Construction will be undertaken by Siemens of Germany, which is hoping to finish by 2004. The deal was in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.

Vivendi acquires 51 per cent stake in Senelec

French utilities group Vivendi Environment has been selected to acquire a 51 per cent stake worth $162m in West Africa’s Senegal power and distributor, Senelec.

Vivendi, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal, outbid French rivals Electricité de France, which dropped out of the running as it felt it “did not stand much of a chance against the other competitors” said a source close to the deal.

The other bidders were US-based AES, Swiss engineering group ABB and Moroccan state-run power utility ONE.

Last year, Senegal privatized Senelec, but a series of power cuts forced the state to buy back a 34 per cent stake from Hydro-Quebec International and Elyo.

G8 deadline

Polish conglomerate Elektrim failed to comply with trade unions for a 25 per cent stake worth $542m of the G8 asset sale that would have made it Poland’s top power supplier.

The deal could be permanently scuppered, as details reveal that Elektrim was put off due to the same reasons that saw Spain’s Iberdrola pull out.

An Elektrim spokesperson confirmed: “The negotiations [between Elektrim and the Trade Unions] concerned privatization premium for workers, employment guarantees and wage increases.”

News digest

Bosnia: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will make a significant sovereign-backed loan to raise environmental standards at four thermal power plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project is part of the extensive Power 3 programme to reconstruct the country’s war-damaged power sector.

Bulgaria: The Bulgarian National Electricity Company (NEC) has completed construction of a 400 kW power line to Turkey one month ahead of schedule. The new cross border facility will allow Bulgaria to expand its power exports to Turkey. Exports will be boosted to 4bn kWh per year.

Estonia: NRG Energy expects to sign a $251m deal with Estonian energy enterprise Eesti Energia for the renovation of two power plants which provide 90 per cent of Estonia’s energy. Under the terms of the agreement Eesti Energia will sell a 49 per cent stake in the two shale-fired Narva power plants to NRG for $70.5m.

Hungary: E.ON Hungaria RT, a subsidiary of German energy giant E.ON, has built a new combined cycle power plant in Debrecen, Hungary. Power generation capacity is rated at 95 MW with a steam generation capacity of 90 MW.

Iceland: A consortium comprising Mott McDonald, Acres International and Làƒ­nnuhàƒ¶nnun are to design a new power station in south west Iceland. The new plant is intended to provide power for in the rapidly growing aluminium industry in Iceland.

Romania: The World Bank and Romania’s government have launched a $10m scheme to help companies improve their energy efficiency as part of the IMF-backed plans to support energy sector deregulation.

Russia: Russia’s Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Bulat Nigmatulin has said that Russia will modernize 11 nuclear power stations by 2005. The project will increase the amount of electricity generated by nuclear power plants to 20 per cent of the total nationwide.

Ukraine: The Ukraine Fuel and Energy Ministry and the Kazakh state company Kazatomprom have set up a joint venture which will produce nuclear fuel for VVER-1000 reactors. It is claimed that the Ukraine’s participation will cut the country’s bill for nuclear fuel by 25 per cent.

Zimbabwe: Peter Brotherhood has just completed commissioning a 50 t, 20 MW steam turbine at a sugar mill in Hippo Valley, Zimbabwe. It is the largest steam turbine ever installed in an African sugar mill. NKK will also begin trials of scrap wood as blast furnace feed at its Keihin Works.

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