Russian power generation and trading company Inter RAO UES Group said Tuesday it will open offices in Havana, as a first step towards setting up a joint venture in Cuba.
The state-controlled but publicly traded company joins Canada’s Sherritt International Corp. and a small Panama-based company as the third foreign partner in Cuba’s power generation industry.
Company CEO Yevgeny Dod in January 2009 signed a memorandum of understanding with state utility Unión Eléctrica to form Generación Mariel S.A., a 50-50 joint venture. The joint venture’s first project, according to a company press release, will be the modernization and expansion of the Máximo Gómez thermoelectric plant in Mariel, a 40-year old facility that has been working at less than 60 percent capacity.
The partners, according to Inter RAO, are still seeking funding for the Mariel project; if they are successful, construction would start next year.
The 600-mw, fuel-oil powered plant — built in the 1970s with Soviet technology — will get upgrades of four existing 100-mw generators and add two new 100-mw units; the partners have not announced a timeline or cost. The joint venture will then operate the plant. A 128-mw diesel generator plant built two years ago, next door to the thermoelectric plant, is not included in the joint venture.
The joint venture also plans to build small hydropower stations and develop Cuba’s electric grid, Inter RAO said in a press release.
Company CEO Dod toured the Mariel plant in May last year, when he met with Cuban officials. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who visited Cuba at least four times over the past three years, is chairman of Inter RAO. State nuclear power utilities Rosatom and Rosenergoatom control 57.3 percent of Inter RAO shares.
Russia has financed recent purchases of electric equipment by Cuba with an intergovernmental loan. In May, Inter RAO signed an agreement in Moscow to supply electricity equipment to Cuba, together with OOO Tula, ZAO Gidromashservis, JSC Kaloriferny, and ZAO Energomash-Sibenergomash.
Inter RAO generates electricity and sells power in Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.