Банкеръ Weekly



The Italian energy company Enel will insist on signing a long-term contract with the National Electricity Company (NEC) for the purchase of electricity if the Government agrees that it builds two new units on the site of Maritsa Iztok 3. The news was broken on Wednesday (December 8) by Enrico Vialle, company's Regional Manager for the Balkans and Executive Director of the Bulgarian office. According to him, the market is still quite unstable to guarantee return on big investments. The two new turbines will have aggregate capacity of 600 megawatts and will cost about EUR900MN. As potential partners the Italians view the Japanese company Mitsui and the American AES as a second possibility. The initial project envisioned building more generating capacities in addition to the present four units on the same site, so there is plenty of space there now, Mr. Vialle specified. Enel is also interested in Maritsa Iztok 1 where a new 640-megawatt power station, working on lignite coal, is to be built. Investor there is AES, but negotiations between the Americans and NEC on the new facility are progressing slowly and it is quite possible that another executor is included in the project as well. According to experts, Enel and Mitsui stand the greatest chances. Enel is a majority owner in Energy Company Maritsa Iztok 3, operating the coal thermoelectric power station. In addition to production of electricity, one of the main tasks of the joint venture is to modernize the plant's four units. Construction of two sulphur purification installations is planned, major rehabilitation of the existing electrostatic filters, and installation of a system for constant monitoring of harmful emissions. After the repair is completed the power plant's capacity will increase from 840 to 904 megawatts, its efficiency will go up by 16%, and the sulphur dioxide emissions will be reduced by more than 90 per cent. The project is to be completed in the second half of 2006 and the first rehabilitated unit will be commissioned in a few months, Mr. Vialle promised. Construction of the first sulphur purifying installation is also progressing. Its commissioning has been scheduled for June 2005. The expected 2004 sales of electricity generated at Maritsa Iztok 3 total 3.4 billion kWh.This quantity will remain the same next year, and after its modernization the plant will be generating 5 billion kWh, or about 8% of Bulgaria's electricity output, Mr. Vialle predicts. Proceeds from sold electricity for 2004 will exceed BGN230MN and the profit is estimated at some BGN40MN. All money will be reinvested in the rehabilitation and dividends will be distributed only after the repair is completed. Investments in the power plant will reach BGN440MN by the end of 2004. The bulk of the money has been spent on new equipment. Bulgarian firms have sub-contracted for orders worth EUR75MN, twice more than initially projected. 1000 working positions for citizens in the region have been opened, up from the initially promised 600 new jobs. Investments for 2005 have been projected at BGN220MN, a considerable part of which will go for environmental protection purposes.

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