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SOLVAY TO INVEST USD200MN IN ENERGY CAPACITIES

The Belgian Solvay will invest USD200MN over the next few years in the construction of a new electricity-generating facility with a capacity of 55MW, providing electricity to the Devnya-based soda-ash manufacturer. Chemically produced natural gas will be used as a fuel for generation of electricity, which will fully meet the plant's needs. According to the enterprise's CEO Ivan Bouchkov, the first stage will include construction of a co-generator with a capacity of 35MW, that will use about 1.2 billion cu m of natural gas per year. Its building will cost DEM200MN, i.e. half of the projected investment. Experts believe that construction will start as soon as possible, once the restrictions in the Energy and Energy Resources Act are revoked. Under the currently effective law, a private investor should ask the State's permission for building any capacity over 5MW.Modernization of the outworn control rooms in the heavy soda workshop is expected to begin in the near future as well. The morally outdated equipment is to be replaced by state-of-the-art electronic devices.Solvay-Sodi has obtained a permission from the Privatisatrion Agency to extend the period for the fulfillment of its investment programme from five to eight years. It has also agreed that investments would be re-directed to its subsidiaries Provadsol, Deven AD, and the Lyulyaka quarry.Under the clauses of its privatisation contract, Solvay has to invest a total of USD67MN in the Devnya-based plant. The company pre-estimates its 2001 after-tax profit at about BGL8MN, despite the comparatively low selling prices of soda-ash, Solvay's CEO Paul Jaclotte said. According to him, the plant is currently operating at 90 per cent of its technological capacity.

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