Bank unit signs loan for Philippines' 175-MW Ambuklao-Binga

A unit of the World Bank has signed a loan agreement, for US$100 million, to SN Aboitiz Power Benguet Inc. to aid in rehabilitation of the 75-MW Ambuklao and 100-MW Binga hydroelectric projects in the Philippines.

The bank's International Finance Corp. (IFC) said September 18 the loan will enable SN Aboitiz, a joint venture of Philippine power producer Aboitiz Power and Norway's Statkraft Norfund Power Invest (SN Power), to install new turbine-generators at the Ambuklao and Binga plants.

Ambuklao and Binga are located 19 kilometers apart on the Agno River at Bokod and Itogon in Benguet Province of Luzon Island. Ambuklao, which has three 25-MW turbine-generators, was completed in December 1956 and has been mothballed by National Power Corp. (Napocor) since 2000. Binga, which has four 25-MW units, was commissioned in 1960.

SN Aboitiz Power Benguet Inc. secured a US$375 million syndicated loan in August to partly fund the purchase and rehabilitation of the plants. (HNN 8/13/08) SN Aboitiz won a 2007 auction offering US$325 million for the Ambuklao and Binga hydropower plants in the northern Philippines' Benguet Province. The Philippines' privatization agency turned over the projects July 10.

The August loan agreement was with IFC, Nordic Investment Bank, Banco de Oro Unibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Asset Management and Trust Group, China Banking Corp., Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank, and Security Bank Corp.

In 2007, SN Aboitiz obtained international bank loans worth US$380 million to help finance the privatization purchase of the 360-MW Magat hydroelectric project, also in the Philippines. The venture received loans for Magat from IFC, Nordic Investment Bank, and seven Philippine banks. (HNN 10/3/07)

SN Aboitiz is to rehabilitate and recommission Ambuklao, which has been shut down due to silt problems, upgrade Binga, and increase the combined capacity by 50 MW in total, 30 MW for Ambuklao and 20 MW for Binga.

Ambuklao's rehabilitation, through July 2010, is to include construction of a new intake and a new tailrace at higher elevations, installation of new electrical and mechanical equipment, erosion repairs, and repairs to gates.

Binga's rehabilitation, through early 2013, is to include construction of a new intake similar to Ambuklao's, improvement of spillway capacity, embankment repairs, and installation of new electrical and mechanical equipment, including generating units.

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