Separately, the Government added, negotiations are underway with Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) on two hydro power schemes – Chontal (100MW) and Villadora (280MW) – both of which are in the Guayllabamba river basin.

A renewed focus on hydro power development has been emphasised by the new Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Esteban Albornoz. He cited the importance of projects such as Sopladora, Coca Codo Sinclair, Cardenillo, Toachi-Pilaton and Ocana.

The Zamora catchment could have up to 4GW of hydro power potential, according to studies by the former national Institute for Electrification (INECEL). In May, the Government received seven bids to undertake a new study and the work is to be done by Hyundai.

The Government wants to have approximately 2GW of hydro power capacity developed in the lower part of the Zamora watershed by 2017.

Potential projects on the Zamora river include Gualaquiza (830MW) and San Antonio (714MW).

The Sopladora scheme, in the Paute river basin, could have up to 400MW of capacity and a development budget of approximately US$400M was previously cited.

The Government has noted that the Cardenillo scheme, also in the Paute catchment, could have a capacity of 327MW.

The biggest project earmarked for development is the 1.5GW Coca Codo Sinclair scheme, and the development cost has been estimated to be approximately US$1.6B.

Toachi-Pilaton could be 228MW and other projects have, previously, also been mentioned for development, such as Minas Jubones (335MW), Chespi (167MW), Baeza (60MW) and Quijos (50MW).

The projects were mentioned two years ago in the Government’s plan to invest about US$300M annually in hydro power development.

The Ocana (26MW) project is one of two under development by utility ElecAustro, the other being Soldados-Yanuncay-Minas (27.8MW).

Other projects that have been listed in the past for possible development include: the El Chaco scheme, comprising two plants of 506MW and 89MW, respectively; and, Borja (350MW) and Balsas (407MW) on the river Quijos.