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Belgians to build Tabriz power plant as Iran looks for $30bn for energy sector

TabrizTabriz power plant: A Belgian company has won the contract to build a $700m, 600MW combined cycle power plant near the city of Tabriz in northwest of Iran, the deputy head of the Centre for Investment Services of East Azerbaijan Province Reza Hosseini announced yesterday. The F class power plant will be built (more…)

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Turkish company wins $4.2bn contract to build string of Iranian power plants

Iranian power plant at Shazand Iranian power plants: Turkiah energy company Unit International has reached a $4.2bn deal with Iran’s energy ministry to build seven natural gas power plants across the country with a combined installed capacity of 6,020 megawatts, it announced in a press release issued yesterday.
Work is scheduled (more…)

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Regions agree to open Pakistan hydro power projects up to foreign investors

Diamer-Basher DamPakistan hydro power: Pakistan’s regional authorities this week unanimously agreed to invite foreign companies to take over the construction of its planned network of hydroelectric ‘mega projects’, including the mammoth Diamer Bhasha dam, after receiving a lukewarm response from the development banking community for help with their financing.
Private investors, many of whom are expected to be (more…)

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Tajikistan looks to EBD to fund Nurek Hydro Power plant

Nurek hydropower plant TajijkistanTajikistan is negotiating with Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and several other financial institutions to raise the funds it requires to upgrade its Nurek hydro power plant, it was reported this week and needs $600m to complete the project.
“The Nurek HPP (more…)

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Angren-Pap rail line gives Tashkent ammunition in Tajik ‘water wars’

Fergana ValleyConstruction of the new $1.9bn Angren-Pap electrified railway line connecting Uzkbekistan’s territories in the Fergana Valley with the capital Tashkent has been completed, it was announced this week. The new line means (more…)

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India set to beat China to $1.6bn Bangladesh power plant project

Power cuts south AsiaBangladesh power plant: Indian’s state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) looks set to secure the contract to build a $1.6bn power plant in Bangladesh, squeezing out China’s Harbin Electric International Company in the latest commercial tussle between Asia’s two dominant powers.
After years of negotiations, (more…)

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$1trn to be invested in Indian energy sector by 2030, says Minister

Wind power indiaAs much as $1trn could be invested in the Indian energy sector over the next 15 years, Minister Piyush Goyal said today. “Considering the initiatives taken by the government in the last few years in the power sector to improve efficiency, (more…)

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China’s State Grid Corp looks to attract $50trn for ‘global energy internet’

Chinese electricity workersChina’s State Grid Corp, one of the world’s biggest utility companies, is planning to build a global energy internet by developing a massive energy grid that would share renewables from all over the world using a network of ‘smart grids.’ The project is being developed through a new subsidiary that is expected to attract $50trn worth of investment by 2050, according to report published by  this month. The company which is also China’s largest electric power transmission and distribution company, is said to be studying the feasibility of a pilot program to establish power transmission not only amongst Asian countries but also between Asia and Europe and between Africa and Europe. It plans to open offices in New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg, as well as Beijing.
State Grid Corp President Liu Zhenya“Creating a global energy internet would mean building networks and energy transportation assets,” its President Liu Zhenya said. “Investment opportunities will come from major projects such as power development, power grid construction, and research and innovation.” Ultra-high voltage transmission lines would allow the effective use of clean energy and reduce emission from fossil fuels, he explained, adding that ‘smart grids’ which would connect billions of households via the Internet were key to the concept.

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Foreign investors asked to bid for $30bn Iranian electricity projects

Iran's Shazand Combined Cycle Power plant

Iran’s Shazand Combined Cycle Power plant

Iranian electricity generation projects worth a total of $30bn are to be offered up to foreign investors, the country’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian announced this week, as Tehran looks to add between (more…)

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Moscow cuts gas supplies to Ukraine as Crimean blackout continues

Crimea power lines destroyedRussia has stopped gas supplies to Ukraine because Kiev has defaulted on a prepayment deal, Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said this morning, confirming remarks made earlier this week by Energy Minister Alexander Novak. (more…)

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Cotton, electricity and the Aral Sea: The troubled waters of Central Asia

Tian Shan glacier

Tian Shan glacier

Fed by the melting glaciers of the Tian Shan and Pamir Mountain ranges on Kyrgyzstan’s and Tajikistan’s borders with China, the Amur Darya and Syr Daria rivers meander westward for over 2,000 kilometres through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to what remains of the Aral Sea. Their waters bind the five states of Central Asia together in a frequently uneasy interdependence, with the downstream demands of the Kazakh, Uzbek and Turkmen agricultural sectors at constant odds with their upstream neighbours’ ambitions to boost their hydroelectric power production.
Before the Soviet era, the combined volumes of the two rivers flowing into the Aral Sea equaled those of the Nile, but central economic planning put paid to that as Moscow went all out to increase Uzbek cotton production. The amount of water diverted from the Amur Darya and Syr Daria for irrigation purposes doubled between 1960 and 2000, with disastrous consequences for the Aral Sea and its surrounding eco systems. Over the past four decades, the water levels of what was once the fourth largest lake in the world have dropped by 23 metres.
aral seaThe problem did not disappear with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cotton remains Uzbekistan’s main cash crop to this day, with raw cotton and non-retail pure cotton yarns accounting for around 20% of all exports making it the world’s fifth largest cotton exporters. Tashkent’s dependence on its “white gold” is not going to go away any time soon.
Chronically short of their own hydrocarbon reserves, both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan see the development of their hydroelectric power industries as a means of simultaneously meeting their domestic power requirements and of generating additional income through exports to South Asia. Both are urgently needed. As a result, water discharges for power generation are already taking precedence over the agricultural demands of their downstream neighbours.
On the upside – at least from their point of view – neither Tajikistan nor Kyrgyzstan are currently producing hydroelectric power at anything like their full capacity. Recent estimates suggest that Tajikistan has the potential to exponentially increase its annual hydropower capacity from 17.09bn kWh in 2013 to 300bn kWh a year, and Kyrgyzstan from 14.9bn kWh in 2011 to 142bn kWh.

Naryn River, site of proposed Kambar-Ata Dam

Naryn River, site of proposed Kambar-Ata Dam

David Trilling

If Tajikistan is going to get anywhere near to achieving this dream, then a good starting point would be to find the $6bn or so that it needs to complete the immense 13bn kWh Rogun dam across the Amu Darya Vakhsh River subsidiary. With the World Bank remaining non-committal on the question of funding, there has been speculation that Russia could finance the project as a means of luring Tajikistan into the Eurasian Economic Union; Moscow has already sunk $2bn into Kyrgyzstan’s Kambar-Ata Dam, one of six planned across the Naryn subsidiary of the Syr Daria. As for the AIIB, exactly how it deals with project that pitches two of its founder members against each other remains to be seen. It may be the first such dilemma faces, and it is very unlikely to be the last.
The fact remains, however, that if Central Asia is going to live up to Beijing’s expectations of a thriving economic zone, then something will have to be done about its power grid – and fast.
While the ADB estimates that combined electricity production in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has been increasing in recent years, it is not keeping pace with rising demand across the region, a state of affairs exacerbated by chronic underinvestment in its infrastructure. Most of Central Asia’s generation and transmission equipment was installed during the Soviet and many power plants are rapidly approaching the end of their working lives.
Tajik energy crisisThe results are predictable with Tajikistan’s Consumers Union Barknest recently reporting that many rural communities only had access to electricity nine hours a day and as little as 7.5 in some of the more remote districts. It is a situation made worse by the fact that, due to a lack of gas supplies, residents also have to use electricity for heating and cooking purposes. Again according to the ADB, some $36bn needs to be invested in Central Asia’s power sector by 2022 principally in the upgrading of existing and construction of new power plants, transmission lines and substations; and, of course, to strengthen power exchange between the countries of the New Silk Road.
In the meantime, the Aral Sea continues to die with the Uzbek authorities facing accusations that it would rather watch it dry out as this would make it easier extract the oil and gas deposits that lie beneath its seabed. In May 2015 its President Islma Karimov announced that $300m had been put aside for initial exploration to be carried out by an international consortium consisting of the Uzbekneftegaz National Holding Company (NHC), Russian’s Lukoil and China’s CNPC.
For whatever reason, the government in Tashkent is now focussing on plans to help improve the living conditions for people living on the perimeter of the Aral desert rather than bringing the sea back.; but creating a few lakes for fish farming or planting some saxaul trees on the seabed to reduce the spread of toxic salts are not going to reverse one of the world’s worst man-made environmental catastrophes.

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EBRD pledges $200m to address Tajik energy crisis

Tajik energy crisisTajik energy crisis: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to invest $200m in Tajikistan this year – almost three times the total for 2014 – with the modernization of the country’s electricity infrastructure a top priority. Tajikistan’s energy sector is in crisis, (more…)

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Budget deficit prompts Mongolian power plant privatisation

Mongolian power stationMongolian power plant privatisation: Mongolia’s Treasury is inviting tenders for someone to underwrite the sale of five state-owned power plants as the country’s growing budget deficit forces the government to consider private some of its assets. According to Finance Minister Bolor Bayarbaatar, the country’s revenue shortfall (more…)

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China pledges $3bn to UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant

Hinkley PointChina has pledged to invest $ 3.1bn in the construction of the UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced today during an official visit to Beijing. 
Construction of the plant (more…)

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K-Water and Rushydro to build Vladivostok hydro plant

Razdolnaya River near Vladivostok

Razdolnaya River near Vladivostok

Lori/ Legion-Media

Vladivostok hydro plant: The South Korean company  K-Water is to help Russia’s RusHydro build a hydroelectric plant and pumped storage plant on the Razdolnaya River, near Vladivostok. The two companies signed an agreement at the Eastern Economic Forum in the city that also provides for the construction of a water transport corridor between Vladivostok and the Khabarovsk river port that will reduce the distance between the two ports from 2,400 km to 800 km, and increase the volume of river freight.
Despite accounting for 36% percent of Russia’s territory, there are only two large power plants in the region, both of which are over 50 years old and in urgent need of upgrading. In 2012, the Ministry of Energy pledged $18bn to the modernisation of the region’s the power generation infrastructure by 2025.

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India and Korea in $10bn Iranian energy park consortium

Khuzestan Province, Iran

Khuzestan Province, Iran


Iranian energy park: A consortium of Iranian, Indian and South Korean companies are looking to set up an energy park in Iran’s Khuzestan province in a project worth $10 billion. The park would include the capacity to generate (more…)

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Russia to commission $830m Kerch Strait electric cable

Kerch Strait

Kerch Strait

Russia’s Energy Ministry has given the go-ahead for the construction of an $830m electric cable along the bottom of the Kerch Strait linking Crimea to Russia as part of its drive to end the peninsula’s dependence on Ukraine for its energy. The project is scheduled (more…)

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Saudi Arabia and Russia agree $10bn investment programme

RiyadhSaudi Arabia’s and Russia’s state-run investment finds last month sealed a deal which will see the two oil-rich states invest as much as $10bn in joint projects of an as yet unspecified nature. The deal between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) was sealed in mid-June when top Saudi officials visited Russia. The countries’ governments also agreed to cooperate on the development of their nuclear energy programs. 

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Asian Development Bank pledges $750m to Azerbaijan electricity upgrade

ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang

ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang

Azerbaijan electricity upgrade: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today agreed to invest $750bn in the reconstruction and modernisation of Azerbaijan’s electricity system. The funds will be released in three tranches over the next five years, with the Azeri government contributing a further $250m, and will be used to upgrade the country’s electricity distribution network and substations; to (more…)

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Russia and Argentina sign energy agreements as Putin looks to South America

President Putin and Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez 23 04 15

President Putin and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez

REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

The Presidents of Russia and Argentina Vladimir Putin and Cristina Fernandez today welcomed a number of agreements signed by their leading energy companies, claiming that they paved the way for closer cooperation between the two countries. They also underline Moscow’s ambition to deepen ties with South America in the aftermath of Western sanctions.
Gazprom has signed an outline deal with Argentina’s state-owned YPF for the joint development of its hydrocarbon deposits, while Rosatom has signed a similar deal for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Heavy plant manufacturer Uralmash is also planning to for a joint venture for the production of oil drilling equipment. At a meeting in the Kremlin, the two leaders said they would consider using their national currencies rather than US dollars in their bilateral trade arrangements.

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