BG Group seals Tunisian power project deal

BG Group signed a memorandum of undertaking with the government of Tunisia regarding the 500 MW, $250m Barca Power project in Sfax, Tunisia.

The combined-cycle gas turbine Barca power plant will be constructed next to BG’s Hannibal processing site, 21 km south of Sfax. The power generated from the plant will be sold to state power company Societe Tunisienne de l’Electricite et du Gaz, where a power purchase agreement will be decided.

Development of the plant would facilitate the acceleration of BG’s existing Miskar fields, where reserves have increased due to in-fill drilling and reappraisal in 2002. BG is working on a plan for these reserves that would result in further investments at the Miskar field.

BG intends to install a 67 km condensate pipeline from Hannibal to La Skhira to transport increased condensate from additional gas production from the Hasdrubal field, as well as a liquefied petroleum gas plant at the Hannibal site to supply the Tunisian market. LPG would be bottled and distributed by a local Tunisian company.

News digest

Bahrain: Power Developments International FZCO has secured a breakthrough in the Middle East market with an $8m contract to build a gas turbine power station at Hidd Industrial Area in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The contract, awarded by Bahrain Electricity Supply and Transmission is for the construction of a 23 MW open cycle power plant based upon a single, refurbished Frame 5 gas turbine.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria will offer for sale 67 per cent stakes in its seven state-owned power distribution companies as part of plans to liberalize the sector and boost its efficiency. Bids would be collected by September and sale contracts should be signed by year-end under a sell-off strategy approved by the government.

Iraq: Aggreko International, a division of Aggreko, announced that it is providing some 21 MW of temporary power generation equipment to help Bechtel with its reconstruction and rehabilitation operations in Iraq under contract to the US Agency for International Development.

Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan has signed contracts worth $150m with foreign companies to spend on a programme to upgrade the country’s power grid networks in 2003. The news agency said that Kazakhstan’s power grid monopoly, the KEGOC company, had signed contracts to spend $69.2m on buying high-voltage equipment, $71.7m dollars on buying equipment to automate power substations and on power distribution equipment.

Russia: General Director of Lenenergo, Andrey Likhachev and President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jean Lemierre, have signed a $40m loan agreement in St Petersburg. The facility funds will finance the final stage of the construction of a $60m,180 MW, capacity power generation block.

Syria: With its demand for energy nearly tripling in the past three decades, Syria has approved a plan calling for investment of $1.48bn through to 2011 to produce power from environmentally friendly renewable energy sources. The UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs cooperated with the Syrian Ministry of Electricity in carrying out a three-year project to develop the plan.

UAE: Alstom has won a G60m contract to build one of the largest high voltage substations in the Gulf region. The 400 kV turnkey gas-insulated substation will be built by Alstom’s Transmission and Distribution Sector for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority at Jebel Ali, Dubai.

Russia adopts electric power reform plan

The Russian government has taken on board a proposal to reform the country’s power sector in the 2003-5 transitional period. The plan sets the schedule for the legal and corporate steps needed to overhaul the industry by spinning off UES’s generation and distribution arms. However, it keeps the transmission grid and dispatch centre under state control.

All six bills needed to jump start power reform and begin creating a free market for electricity have already passed through parliament and been signed into law. But 49 state rulings, bills and decrees have to be adopted to finish laying the legal basis for restructuring under the plan, which was drafted by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

Separately, UES is negotiating preliminary agreements with six foreign utilities, including Enel, to manage the generation companies (Fed-GenCos) created out of sector restructuring. UES will offer management rights in the FedGenCos to foreign power utilities that can bring expertise and professionalism to Russia’s electricity market after liberalization.

Russia to build DoE power plant

A 117 MW coal-fired plant is to be built in Russia by 2011 by Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC under a deal struck between the Russian and US governments.

The Zheleznogorsk project is a step in fulfilling commitments agreed to by the US and Russian in 2003, implementing the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium production. The programme will close down the last three operating plutonium production reactors in Russia by replacing the heat and electricity generated from them with fossil fuel plants.

Russia’s state will foot the bill for the shutdown, and Washington Group Inter-national will oversee work at the Seversk site, where an old coal-fired plant will be refurbished and expanded by 2008.

Czechs will increase dependence on nuclear and coal for power

The Czech Republic will look to increase its dependence on coal and nuclear plants as part of its energy road map until 2030.

Officials prefer the construction of such units at the controversial Temelin plant. The draft energy concept, which parliamentary deputies will discuss before adopting a final version by the end of the year, considers six colour-coded plans that examine different energy sources for the country.

Czechs now use around 40m t of brown coal and 11m t of black coal a year. Energy from coal accounts for two-thirds of the country’s consumption. But this will wither down to 30m t in 2030, even when assuming that existing mining areas in the northwestern part of the country grow, a difficult issue as a number of municipalities are opposed to expanding coal mining. Another issue is to increase the production of electricity from renewable sources, whose share of production under all the plans offered will increase from 2.3 per cent in 2000 to 10-11 per cent in 2030.

Iran invites west

Iran is to open its doors to the US and the western world to ease fears over any nuclear ambitions Terhan may have.

But tougher inspections will not be permitted until the US and others lift sanctions against the country first, said Hamid Reza Asefi, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

Washington imposed sanctions on Iran, banning the sale of dual-use technology, after the 1979 US Embassy takeover in Tehran. Other western nations also refuse to sell dual or nuclear technology to Iran.