QUITO, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s Ministry of Energy said on Wednesday that it began a selection process for a private company to concession the construction and operation of a new natural gas-based thermal generation plant, a project that will require an investment of 600 million dollars.
The new selection process is part of a series of free market reforms that the Andean country is implementing under the leadership of President Lenín Moreno. The government released the import of derivatives last month, including natural gas, and is looking for a private partner to renovate the Esmeraldas refinery, the country’s largest with 110,000 barrels a day.
The project called Natural Gas Combined Cycle Block will have an installed capacity of 400 megawatts and will be complementary to hydroelectric energy, which mainly supplies the country. The authorities foresee that the plant will come into operation in 2023.
“A private investment of 600 million dollars is expected, which includes the infrastructure of the natural gas supply chain,” the Energy Ministry said in a statement.
The Moreno government, who will leave office in May 2021, offers incentives for investors interested in the new thermoelectric generation plant as an exemption from the payment of some taxes under certain conditions.
The project will be built in the coastal region of the country, “at the site decided by private bidders,” but Ecuador has two ports that can be considered for importing natural gas, the ministry explained.
Ecuador exports electricity to Colombia and Peru.
(Report by Alexandra Valencia, Edited by Manuel Farías)