Turkey delights IMF

The Turkish parliament’s approval of a bill designed to end the state’s monopoly over the electricity market and boost competition is expected to please the IMF and the World Bank who have been pressing for the reforms. Capital inflows worth billions of dollars are now expected from the institutions in the form of aid for the power sector.

A speaker from the general assembly, Nejat Arseven, said the legislation was passed by a parliamentary majority of 182:22. The bill introduces a free electricity market with a transition period of 18 months after its approval by the president and publication in the Official Gazette. Ending state monopoly in power production and distribution, the bill will set up a seven-member electricity market regulatory board to set tariffs, issue licenses, oversee the market and prevent uncompetitive practices. Monopoly control over transmission is to be retained by the state.

The new law will divide loss-making state power producer TEAS into electricity generation, transmission and trading companies. These companies are then to be sold off when the market takes full effect after the transition period.

New biomass power plants for Karelia

Two large fuel-burning thermal plants using local peat and waste wood will be put into operation in the Russian republic of Karelia this spring. Located at Kalevala and Lahdenpohja, the plants are part of the EU’s Tacis programme for renovating heat supply systems in Russia.

The new plants will replace six boiler houses in Kalevala and two in Lahdenpohja. The republic’s government is funding 30 per cent of the cost of construction with the EU providing 20 per cent, while the remainder will be drawn from credits from the Nevko Corporation.

Completion of the gas pipeline and switching over of major centres to gas-fired heating in Karelia will enable the republic to end imports of fuel oil and coal for heating.

Siemens secures contract

Siemens has secured a $130m contract to supply equipment for a power plant in the United Arab Emirates. The package includes three gas turbines, two steam turbines, five generators, electrical instrumentation and control equipment for the Jebel Ali power plant complex, based 50 km from Dubai.

The site includes a desalination plant which is also to be supplied with instrumentation and control equipment. The plant will have an electrical capacity of 850 MW and be able to desalinate 227m litres of sea water per day. Siemens is also currently working on the Al Taweelah A2 power complex, 80 km east of Abu Dhabi.

Arabian grid progresses

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak joined Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Jordan’s King Abdullah to inaugurate the linking of the three countries’ electricity grids in March. Syria was officially linked to the grid that currently links Egypt and Jordan during the ceremony.

The project, worth $145m, was financed by the Kuwaiti-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The core of the project is the construction of a 187 km line linking power stations in Amman and Damascus.

African move for Capstone

Capstone Turbine Corp. has made its first moves into Africa through an agreement with Totalsupport Ltd. to supply ten microturbine power systems.

The microturbines will be used in resource recovery applications with the use of low value wellhead gases to produce onsite electricity for oilfield facilities and nearby communities.

Nigeria is said to have an abundance of wellhead gas and a severe shortage of electricity. The Capstone systems are suitable for the country due to their ability to run on a variety of fuels and low maintenance requirements.

Slovakia’s slow progress

Slovakia’s plans to attract investors to its energy sector, ahead of next year’s election, has faulted at the first step. In the first round of privatization, the US firm El Paso Energy has withdrawn from exclusive negotiations to buy PPC, a 220 MW combined cycle gas-fired plant in Bratislava.

Uncertainty over the electricity market as it progresses towards full liberalization in 2007 has been cited as a major concern. AES, also from the US and next on the short list, is expected to raise similar concerns with the government’s advisers, Bank of America.

El Paso said that it disagreed with PPC’s owners on how to replace the state guarantee on a $46m loan from the European Investment Bank. Refusal by the owners to share risk via long term deals to buy the plant’s power led one official to note that “Slovakia doesn’t have an appreciation of this kind of project financing”.

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