Russian firm agrees to equip, help finance Ecuador hydro cascade

Russian power developer Inter Rao UES has signed a memorandum of agreement with the government of Ecuador to expand the proposed 281-MW Tortugo-Tigre hydroelectric project by the addition of three more hydro plants, all in the Guallabamba River Basin, totaling 411 MW.

Inter Rao said by the end of 2011 it is to provide a technical and commercial proposal for construction of Tortugo-Tigre and the other three projects, Manduriacu (also called Mandarayacu or Manduriaku), which has previously been estimated at 280 MW; Chontal, which has previously been estimated at 150 MW; and Chirapi, which has previously been estimated at 110 MW.

Upon signing the agreement with Jorge Glas, Ecuador's coordinator of strategic sectors, Inter Rao said it expects to participate in construction of all five projects, which constitute the Tortugo-Tigre cascade and are expected to cost $1.5 billion.

Ecuador's investment institute, Instituto Nacional de Preinversion, recruited consultants in July to study and design hydroelectric projects in the upper Guayllabamba Basin. Ecuador and Pichincha Province signed agreements in 2008 to develop 11 hydroelectric projects totaling 1,670 MW on the Guayllabamba system. Projects then were identified as Chespi, Villadora, Chontal, Calderon, Cubi, Palma Real, San Pedro, Chirapi, Mandarayacu Grande, Tortuga, and Llurimaguas.

Inter Rao said Ecuador initiated the proposal to expand the Tortugo-Tigre hydro cascade. Inter Rao currently is providing hydro-mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment for the 228-MW Toachi-Pilaton hydroelectric project.

Toachi-Pilaton, which involves construction of two hydropower plants, 50-MW Sarapullo on the Pilaton River and 178-MW Alluriquin on the Pilaton and Toachi rivers, is being equipped by Inter Rao and built by China International Water and Electric since Ecuador President Rafael Correa expelled the previous builder, Construtora Norberto Odebrecht of Brazil, from the country in a dispute over the 230-MW San Francisco hydroelectric project.

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