Argentina-China dams project gains new momentum

GMT 04:48 2016 Sunday ,01 May

Arab Today, arab today Argentina-China dams project gains new momentum

A joint Argentina-China project
Buenos Aires - XINHUA

A joint Argentina-China project to build twin dams and boost hydropower generation in the South American country has gained new momentum through a series of binational meetings to update the venture.

The Nestor Kirchner and Jorge Cepernic Dams in the country's southern province of Santa Cruz have been designed to supply some 4 percent of the energy needed by Latin America's third-largest economy.

Sources close to the negotiations, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Xinhua that Argentina's Ministry of Energy and Mining has put forward a new plan to have the project meet stipulations set by the national Electric Energy Law.

Meeting those specifications became necessary after Argentina's federal authorities decided the project should contribute to the national energy grid, not just the regional grid as originally planned.

In addition, the new plan specifies that profits from the sale of energy will go to the national treasury, not the provincial government, though the province will receive a 12-percent commission as stipulated by the Energy Law.

On Wednesday, Energy and Mining Minister Juan Aranguren met with Deputy Governor of Santa Cruz Pablo Gonzalez, who agreed to submit the new plan to the regional legislature for approval.

The minister also met with representatives of Gezhouba, the Chinese construction firm working on the project in collaboration with Argentine company Electroingenieria e Hidrocuyo.

The regional legislature of Santa Cruz province is set to ratify the plan during its first May session, according to local media La Opinion Austral and La Politica Online.

Local Electroingenieria e Hidrocuyo and China-based Gezhouba Group Company Limited won the bid to build the two dams in August 2013, beating other strong competitors, including France's Alstom and South Korea's Hyundai.

The dams, being built on the Santa Cruz River, will have a production capacity of 1.740 megawatts, meaning that the Santa Cruz River would have the second largest dam after Yacyreta, a dam located on the Parana River and jointly administered by Argentina and Paraguay.

Argentina relies heavily on the Yacyreta Dam, which covers 22 percent of its electricity needs.

The two dams were named after former governors of Santa Cruz -- Jorge Cepernic and Nestor Kirchner, who was president from 2003 and 2007.

The construction, which began in December 2013, will take five years and is expected to create 5,000 jobs.

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