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UPDATE - Argentina province pre-qualifies for 478-MW Chihuido 1

Argentina's Neuquen Province invites expressions of interest for construction of the 478-MW Chihuido 1 hydroelectric project on the province's Neuquen River. Responses are due August 5.

Neuquen plans to pre-qualify bidders to finance and implement: project planning and design; environmental impact studies and mitigation; construction of civil works; supply and installation of hydro-mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment; supply and construction of transmission lines; operation and maintenance; access roads; and resettlement.

The beginning of the bidding process was announced June 18 by Neuquen Gov. Jorge Sapag and the coordinator of the management unit of Chihuido 1 and 2, President Elias Sapag of the Autoridad Interjurisdiccional de Cuencas. (HNN 6/20/08)

Featuring three vertical-axis Francis turbine-generators, Chihuido 1 is expected to generate 1,750 gigawatt-hours annually. The project's 17,000-hectare reservoir also is to reduce flooding and guarantee water for consumption, irrigation, and industry.

The province said construction is expected to require three to four years at a cost between US$900 million and US$1 billion.

Elias Sapag said the project is not a public work and will require no funds from the government or the province. The winning bidder is to build, finance, operate, and maintain the multi-purpose project.

The official said Neuquen is negotiating a power purchase agreement with the Argentine government that would use the government's �energy-plus� program providing increased power rates. It also is negotiating tax exemptions for import of generating equipment.

The invitation for expressions of interest may be obtained from the Neuquen Internet site at www.neuquen.gov.ar/eventos/Chihuido-I/CONVOCATORIA-PUBLICA-INVERSORES-CHIHUIDOI.pdf. To be eligible to bid, companies must purchase solicitation documents by July 30 for 50,000 pesos (US$17) from the address below. Bidders must establish a local address for correspondence in the city of Neuquen.

A bidders meeting is scheduled July 14, with site visits set for July 15-30.

Expressions of interest are due by noon August 5 to the offices of Secretaria de Estado de Recursos Naturales de la Provincia del Neuquen, Calles Rioja y Roca, Ciudad de Neuquen, Neuquen Province, Argentina.

Pre-qualified companies are to be named September 8. Documents describing project specifications and bidding conditions are being drafted by Neuquen Province and the Argentina government for issuance October 6. Bids are to be opened in February 2009.

For information, see the expressions of interest invitation and other data on the Neuquen Internet site, www.neuquen.gov.ar.

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