News digest

East Africa: The Swedish international Development Agency has agreed to finance a feasibility study into a master plan for power generation and interconnection for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Canadian firm BKR Acres will undertake the study, which is expected to be completed within the year.

Ethiopia: Wärtsilä has received two power plant orders worth over g24m ($26m) from the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation. The 35 MW and 12 MW power plants will be connected to the public grid. Wärtsilä will supply 14 of its 200 engines to the turnkey power plants, which will be run on light fuel oil.

Hungary: AES has awarded two contracts worth a total of g23m ($25m) to Alstom in for the total refurbishment of its Tisza plant at Tiszaújvaráros, 180 km from Budapest. The goal of the project is to secure the reliable operation of the plant until 2016 and to meet European environmental standards.

Iran: Demand for electricity in Iran is rising at three times the world’s average and is to result in a doubling of power generation over the next decade, according to the Energy Ministry. An additional 30 000 MW is to be added, of which 12 000 MW will result through foreign partnerships.

Lebanon: Lebanon plans to sell 40 per cent of its loss-making power monopoly to an international investor by the end of June. Expressions of interest for Electricite du Liban have been received from 19 European firms. Lebanon is dependent on revenues from the privatization of its power sector to help cut public debt.

Morocco: An Alstom-led consortium has won a g69m ($74m) contract in Morocco to supply, on a turnkey basis, three new extra-high-voltage substations and upgrade another, as part of a project by the state utility to build the country’s 400 kV network. The project will also strengthen the country’s transmission system and improve links with neighbouring countries.

Oman: The Barka power and desalination plant, the biggest in the Sultanate of Oman, is likely to be commissioned early 2003, according to official sources. The $411m plant will supply 427 MW of power and 91 million litres per day of desalinated water. Commercial operations are expected in April 2003. The plant is the first project in the Middle East region for US energy group AES though its AES Barka Power Company subsidiary.

Romania: A new power sector programme is being launched by the World Bank under its Country Assistance Strategy mandate. The project will cost $118.35m.

E.ON and UES agree co-operation

Anatoly Chubais, CEO of Russian state utility, UES and Hans-Dietrich Harring, E.ON’s CEO have signed a memorandum of co-operation under which the companies will look into the possibility of E.ON acting as management company for one or more of UES’s ten wholesale generation firms. A task force will prepare a full-scale agreement which will cover a range of projects, including the installation of gas turbines in Russian power plants.

Minority investors oppose the move which they see as favouring E.ON ahead of any privatization of genco assets. The move underscores E.ON’s ambitions to become a strategic investor in the Russian power sector, despite transferring its stake in Lenenergo to Finnish utility Fortum. US power technology supplier, GE Power Systems, may also be seeking alliances in Russia. Its president John Rice told delegates at Moscow’s Russia Power conference that, finding strong partners to complement core competencies was one of the critical elements required to succeed in liberalizing energy markets.

UES itself was reported to have produced a draft 2003 budget showing a deficit of around R2.57bn ($82m) with proposed tariff increases of 12 per cent.

UAE set for for grid tender

The construction of a national power grid for the United Arab Emirates will go out to tender by the next quarter, according to Saeed Mohamed Ahmed Al Tayer, general manager of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). The cost of the project, linking all the UAE’s power stations along its western coast with the central region, is estimated at Dh500m ($136m) and is expected to take two and a half years to complete.

Consultants from Electricité de France have been appointed to prepare the tender for the project, which will eventually link to the planned GCC regional power network.

Poland gets first supercritical CFB

Poland’s Poludniowy Koncern Energetycznu (PKE) has placed an order worth around X150m ($161.5m) with Foster Wheeler Energia Oy for the world’s first supercritical circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boiler that will also be the world’s largest CFB unit. The 460 MW boiler island is for a power plant at Lagisza in southern Poland and pre-engineering work will start immediately with the plant scheduled for commissioning in 2006.

Built around once-through unit supercritical technology, the plant will be designed to achieve high levels of efficiency fuel economy, together with very low emissions, which will fully meet the requirements of the EU’s new Large Combustion Plant directive. The plant will use some five per cent less fuel per GWh of electricity generated than conventional drum-based solid fuel fired boilers as a result of the supercritical technology.

“By incorporating the supercritical steam process with our world-leading CFB technology, we will be offering PKE the very best in solid fuel combustion. Our modular design approach will also enable us to offer even larger units of the same type in the future,” said Timo Kauranen, president and CEO of Foster Wheeler Energia

Nigeria prepares for power sale

Nigeria’s National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) has established committees to manage the planned break-up of the troubled state power company into six separate generation, one transmission and 11 distribution companies next year.

The sale of the debt-ridden utility was originally scheduled for December last year but parliament deferred power sector reform, introducing a new reform act. “The setup teams are to act as a hub for the envisaged unbundling of the Authority with the primary responsibility of initiating, determining and executing the steps towards the establishment of 18 new companies,” a statement from NEPA said.

Meanwhile NEPA has resorted to power rationing after unrest in the oil producing western Niger Delta has led to a gas shortages. NEPA has an installed capacity of 4000 MW but current generation is estimated at less than 3000 MW due to inefficient infrastructure and the reduction in gas supplies.

Modified CEZ merger completed

The Czech Republic’s electricity generator CEZ has closed its deal to acquire government stakes in eight regional power distribution companies although agreement from the country’s competition authority was conditional upon CEZ selling its interests in four of the eight. CEZ was to acquire the distribution companies in exchange for relinquishing a 66 per cent stake in its transmission network, although it now appears that it will give up its entire share.