Банкеръ Weekly



The Bulgarian Government is considering the construction of new coal power plants in the Maritsa-Iztok complex near Stara Zagora, the Minister of Economy and Energy Roumen Ovcharov announced on October 4. At present, the 120-megawatt Maritsa 3 - Dimitrovgrad and Maritsa-Iztok 2 (1,450 megawatts) are operating in the drainage of Maritsa. Moreover, the Italian energy company Enel rehabilitated Maritsa-Iztok 3 thermal power plant (840 megawatts) and in June the US AES company started the construction of a new power plant on the ground of Maritsa-Iztok 1 thermal power plant.
Before we decide on building new units, we are going to consider carefully what effect they would have on the environment, Minister Ovcharov said. Currently, Enel is most likely to build a new plant as on October 4 it signed a memorandum with the National Electricity Company for fulfilling pre-project research for construction of additional facilities on the ground of Maritsa-Iztok 3 thermal plant. According to the Italians, the future investment will amount to EUR900MN. The money will be used for construction of a 640-megawatt power plant that would meet all modern ecological standards.
The National Electricity Company (NEC) assured us that domestic consumption of electricity is growing incessantly. Our preliminary research may be concluded by year-end and the building of the facilities will take about three more years, Enel Executive Director Fulvio Conti said.
The main advantage of the Italians is the experience they gathered on the Bulgarian market. In 2003, they acquired the majority stake in Maritsa-Iztok 3 Energy Company which owns Maritsa-Iztok 3 thermal power plant. In return, they committed themselves to rehabilitate the four generators of the power plant and to build sulphur-cleaning installations. The project was credited with EUR348MN by ten European and Bulgarian banks - EBRD, the French Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, the Italian Banca Mediocredito, Bank Austria, BULBANK, United Bulgarian Bank, Biochim, SG EXPRESSBANK and the regional Black Sea Bank for Trade and Development.
In the beginning of the week it became clear that the Maritsa-Iztok 3 Energy Company had drawn a new EUR450MN loan for a term of 17 years to refinance all planned investments for the going on modernization of the station. The money will be released by Societe Generale and the guarantees have been provided by the SACE Insurance Agency. Thus, the existing long-term credit package, consisting of four separate credit tranches, will be replaced by a single credit line.
That is a turning point on the road of making the power station a reliable and ecologically clean electricity supplier on the Bulgarian market. The improved terms of the credit will allow us additionally cut down the price at which we sell electricity to NEC, said Enrico Viale, Executive Director of Maritsa-Iztok 3 Energy Company.
Whether that will be sufficient for the Italians to be entrusted the implementation of a second big project in Bulgaria will become known after completion of the feasibility study, to be conducted by Enel. Their rivals for the construction of new capacities in the Maritsa-Iztok complex are Japan's Mitsui and the American AES. In his statement Energy Minister Ovcharov did not miss to underline that there were other possibilities as well.

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