Romania’s state-owned utility Conel is planning to spend US$240M in several energy sector projects this year, including hydro power. About US$170M of this is expected to come from a loan agreement, with the European Investment Bank and the European

Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Conel plans to continue with construction and upgrading work on some 35 hydro power plants with a total capacity of 1400MW. It also plans to refurbish the 30-year-old Portile de Fier I power plant on the Danube, a project jointly operated with neighbouring Yugoslavia.

To upgrade Portile de Fier I, Romania has signed a

contract with Sulzer Hydro of Switzerland which will lead the project. It will be completed by 2005 and will increase the installed capacity of each of the six units on the Romanian side from 175MW to 190MW.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Minister of Industry, Radu Berceanu said that the Eurofinances company can continue its management of the construction of hydro power plants in Gorj and Vilvea counties.

Romania’s trade unions are unhappy that Eurofinances will undertake this project as they claim that no tender was published for the work. They also claim that with Eurofinances undertaking the construction of hydro plants it will achieve large profits and take hydro power generation into the private sector.