DRC prime minister endorses MagEnergy rehab of 1,424-MW Inga 2

The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has endorsed a proposal by MagEnergy Inc. to perform Phase 2 rehabilitation of the 1,424-MW Inga 2 hydroelectric project on the DRC’s Congo River.

MagEnergy, a subsidiary of Canadian magnesium producer MagIndustries Corp., has been performing Phase 1 rehab of the project, including emergency repairs to several turbines and refurbishment of one previously non-functioning 168-MW turbine. MagEnergy expects to complete that work by June 2008. (HNN 5/30/07)

MagIndustries said February 21 that MagEnergy continues to work toward final ratification of its estimated US$110 million Phase 2 program to rehabilitate an additional four turbines at eight-unit Inga 2, to restore them to operation over five years.

The company said it received an important expression of support for Phase 2 in a February 13 letter from DRC Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga.

�MagEnergy welcomes this high level political encouragement but also recognizes that there are remaining steps in the political and bureaucratic processes in the DRC that must be completed before MagEnergy can report the inauguration of the Phase 2 rehabilitation project,� MagIndustries said.

Under an agreement with the DRC utility, Societe Nationale d’Electricite (SNEL), MagEnergy is leading refurbishment of the project with partner Industrial Development Corp. (IDC) of South Africa. In Phase 1, the partners are conducting emergency refurbishment of the 172-MW G-23 unit of Inga 2. Extraction of its giant rotor in March 2007 was facilitated by prior repairs to two cranes originally installed at Inga 2 in 1982.

In 2006, MagEnergy allotted an initial US$12 million for the emergency work, followed by authorization for another US$10 million. Once the Phase 1 work is complete, MagEnergy is to receive revenue from the resulting sale of 84 MW.

Currently, the 350-MW Inga 1 and 1,424-MW Inga 2 produce a total of only 500 MW due to lack of maintenance. MagEnergy and IDC, which holds 30 percent interest in Phase 1 and 15 percent of Phase 2, plan to restore a significant portion of the lost generation under a public-private partnership.

The DRC recently said it expects to seek bids for additional rehabilitation of Inga 1 and 2. Additionally, the five-nation Western Power Corridor Co. (Pty) Ltd. (Westcor) launched development of the 4,300-MW Inga 3 project with a solicitation for advisers, consultants, and operational staff. (HNN 2/21/08)

Inga 1 and 2 are the keystone of a proposal by DRC and its neighbors to invest up to US$40 billion to expand the Inga complex to a target capacity of 40,000 MW.

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