Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Liberia says Sinohydro interested in hydro project

Liberia says Sinohydro interested in hydro project
Reuters, Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:20am EDT

* Sinohydro shows interest in Liberia hydro project
* Govt to hold investor conference in October
* Presidential task team to decide on investment soon

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Sinohydro, China's top dam builder, is the
sole investor interested so far in a contract to construct and operate a
hydro power project in Liberia estimated to cost up to $4 billion, a
minister said on Wednesday.

"They (Sinohydro) are the only investor who has expressed interest in the
BOT (build, operate and turnover)," Eugene Shannon, the lands, mines and
energy minister, told Reuters on the sidelines of an African energy
conference in Cape Town.

"They want to do a BOT of the entire St Paul river basin, which is good.
For the Mount Coffee development, which was operational before including
the reservoir, that would be about $400 million dollars. The entire St
Paul river scheme will be far more than that, approximately $4 billion,"
he added.

Liberia currently has capacity to generate only 10 megawatts, and
blackouts regularly plunge millions of citizens in the dark and constrain
the economically vital mining sector.

Brazilian mining firm Vale (VALE5.SA) and Israeli-owned BSGR are also
planning to help the west African state raise power production from almost
nothing to 1,000 megawatts by 2013.

Vale, as part of a deal with Liberia to transport iron ore from Guinea to
port, will help raise Liberia's energy production to 64 MW by rebuilding a
defunct hydro plant on the St Paul river.

Shannon, chairman of a presidential task team investigating ways of
garnering support for the hydro project, said a meeting in Monrovia next
month would help gauge investor appetite.

"Vale has said they would resuscitate 64 megawatts, but that's not
sufficient, so we are engaging Norad, we are engaging Ecowas, the African
Development Bank and others," he said.

Shannon said Liberia's government hoped to make a final investment
decision on the project before the end of the year, and was looking to
hand over the project to one company to control for about 25-30 years.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf, editing by Jane Baird)

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