Austria group signs deal to build Bulgaria’s 170-MW Gorna Arda

Bulgarian electric utility NEK has signed an agreement with energy utility EVN and Alpine Bau in which the Austrian companies will take a stake in building Bulgaria’s long-delayed 170-MW Gorna Arda hydropower complex.

NEK Executive Director Mardik Papazyan told Bulgarian media the EVN-led group is to take the place of CCG, part of Turkey’s Ceylan conglomerate, which agreed to sell its 30.1 percent stake in the project. (HydroWorld 6/9/08) Construction never got under way with the Turkish group after its Bank Kapital was put under administration in 2000.

Bulgarian newspaper Klasa reported the Austrian group was ready to invest 600 million euros (US$847 million) in Gorna Arda.

NEK said the memorandum of understanding gives Bulgaria four months to decide how to restructure the project and that Bulgaria would seek to keep a majority stake. Papazyan said under one option, EVN and Alpine Bau could be awarded a concession contract for construction. Under another scenario, the project could be privatized, with the Austrian firms acquiring project lands.

The project envisages construction of the Gorna Arda water cascade, which includes three new hydropower stations totaling 170 MW, and rehabilitation of three existing hydropower stations. Work on the existing stations, which total 274 MW, was expected to cost US$32 million.

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