Decision coming soon for 1,740 MW Santa Cruz hydroelectric projects, Argentina says

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Argentina's government will select from a pool of five international consortia for the construction of the 1,140-MW Presidente Nestor Kirchner and 600-MW Gobernador Jorge Cerpernic hydroelectric projects.

Speaking at a ceremony announcing the bids yesterday, Planning Minister Julio De Vido said the winning consortium will be selected within 60 days with contracts signed a month later. Construction could begin as soon as June.

"We will see a true revolution in terms of employment and economic activity," De Vido said. "We have to be ready for it."

Argentina most recently announced tendering for the two hydropower complexes in April 2004 -- both of which will be located along the Santa Cruz River in the province of the same name.

Bidders include:

  • The China Gezhouba Group Corporation, in conjunction with Argentina's Electroingenieria SA;
  • Brazil's OAS SA with Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company Ltd.;
  • Brazil's Odebrecht SA with Argentina's Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona SA (IMPSA);
  • China's Sinohydro Corporation with Argentina's IECSA SA;
  • Argentina's Helport SA with Spain's Isolux Corsan.

"With these two dams, we'll have an energy surplus and a competitive advantage for companies that want to come to Santa Cruz," said Santa Cruz Lieutenant Governor Fernamdo Cotillo.

The combined 1,740 MW of power produced by the projects is expected to account for about 10% of Argentina's total demand for power while also saving the country US$1.1 billion annually in imported diesel and natural gas.

The country previously pre-qualified groups for the US$5 billion project in 2008 and 2010, though the process was annulled both times due to the international financial crisis.

De Vido said all the companies in the current round of qualifications had agreed to finance at least 50% of the project, halving the government's need to finance the projects itself.

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