RUSAL eyes power plant acquisitions to fuel aluminum growth

RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminum producer, will consider bidding for Russian energy assets to power its growing capacity to produce the metal, its chief executive said May 15.

RUSAL, majority owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, also has begun construction of the US$2.3 billion Boguchany smelter — one of five plants in Siberia it believes will produce 1 million tons of aluminum annually within five to seven years. The scheme includes completion of the 3,000-MW Boguchanskaya hydropower plant on the Angara River with Russian hydro generator HydroOGK. (HNN 4/25/07)

“We are laying a stone for the first stage of the Boguchany plant, but I believe there will be a second and a third stage,” Chief Executive Alexander Bulygin told reporters. “Russia, in the next five to seven years, will be proud of having five plants capable of producing 1 million tons each.”

Bulygin said RUSAL might be interested in bidding for other power assets as part of the restructuring, including two regional power utilities, OGK-4 and OGK-5.

“We are interested in possibilities for increasing the capability of existing energy assets, rather than building new assets,” he said. “We are examining the possibility of participating in the privatization process.”

The Boguchany plant, 550 kilometers northeast of Krasnoyarsk, will be the main consumer of energy from the Boguchanskaya hydro plant. HydroOGK and RUSAL secured a syndicated US$520 million bridge loan in March to finance the complex.

“Energy is key for us and therefore we are examining different projects linked to energy: hydro energy, thermal energy, gas, coal, and atomic energy,” Bulygin said.

He added the company, currently active in 17 countries, was also looking at projects elsewhere, including African countries, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Papua New Guinea.

“We are not purely an aluminum company,” Bulygin said. �We are an energy and metals company.”

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