Argentina president announces tendering for 1,740-MW Santa Cruz complex

PIEDRA BUENA, Argentina 4/30/12 (PennWell) — Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced a solicitation by the national government for construction of two hydroelectric projects on Argentina’s Santa Cruz River totaling 1,740 MW. The president said the solicitation would be issued May 7.

Fernandez de Kirchner led a signing ceremony April 20 at Piedra Buena in which government, utility, and financial backers participated.

The two hydro projects are 1,140-MW Presidente Nestor Kirchner, formerly called Condor Cliff now named for Fernandez de Kirchner’s late husband, and 600-MW Gobernador Jorge Cerpernic, formerly called La Barrancosa now named for a Peronist former governor of Santa Cruz Province until a 1976 military coup suspended and imprisoned him.

The complex was tendered for construction by sparsely populated Santa Cruz Province in 2008 and 2010, but the process was annulled both times due to the international financial crisis. It was reported a consortium of Impsa, Camargo Correa, and Corporacion America had won the 2010 competition working under a 16 billion peso (US$3.6 billion) government budget.

Fernandez de Kirchner said the projects now are more viable because 2,000 kilometers of transmission line are being completed that will connect the projects, and the Patagonia region, to Argentina’s national grid. In addition to helping meet national electricity demand, the grid connection will allow power to be exchanged with Brazil on a seasonal basis.

Argentina’s Secretaria de Obras Publicas and the Subsecretaria de Recursos Hidricos of the Ministerio de Planificacion Federal, Inversion Publica y Servicios are to issue an international solicitation in May seeking bids under a price cap of 21.6 billion pesos (US$4.9 billion). Bidders may provide their own financing and by paid under a power sales contract with the wholesale electricity market manager, Compania Administradora del Mercado Mayorista Electrico Sociedad Anonima (CAMMESA).

The government plans road shows to attract potential contractors and investors in “leading countries in hydroelectric infrastructure, such as Brazil, Russia, and China,” the Secretaria de Obras Publicas said.

For information, contact Ministerio de Planificacion Federal, Inversion Publica y Servicios, Secretaria de Obras Publicas, Hipolito Yrigoyen 250 CP (1086AABB), Buenos Aires, Argentina; E-mail: infoobras@minplan.gov.ar; Internet: www.obraspublicas.gov.ar.

Argentina president officiates start of 132-MW Los Caracoles

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner presided over the start-up June 18, 2009, of the 132-MW Los Caracoles hydroelectric project on Argentina’s San Juan River.

Fernandez issued the order to start one of the US$250 million project’s two Francis turbine-generators in a video conference link from the government house of San Juan Province, about 60 kilometers from the hydro plant site.

Accompanied by San Juan Gov. Jose Luis Gioja, the president said Los Caracoles is the most important work realized in the history of San Juan and one of the great energy works of the country.

The province’s electric utility, Energia Provincial Sociedad del Estado (EPSE), began mechanical testing of the first turbine-generator in April and recently completed both mechanical and electrical testing of the equipment. The second unit is expected to begin generating in July.

Los Caracoles’ 136-meter-tall dam was built by the consortium Techint-Panedile, while Power Machines of Russia supplied generating equipment.

Fernandez gave the order to close gates to begin filling Los Caracoles’ reservoir in October 2008. However, low water levels have delayed filling the impoundment.