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Georgia Says South Koreans May Bid for $800 Million Hydro Plant

Georgia said it may yet attract South Korean bidders for its $800 million Namakhvan hydropower project after potential investors pulled out earlier this year.

South Korean companies are still interested in taking part in the project, which will help the former Soviet republic cut dependence on fossil-fuel imports, Georgia’s Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili said today in an interview.

A group led by Korea Electric Power Corp., including SK Engineering & Construction Co. and Turkey’s Nurol Construction & Trading Co., had signed an initial agreement in 2009 to build a hydropower plant in the mountainous Namakhvan area of western Georgia. That plan ended up being scrapped due to the “financial crisis and disagreements,” Valishvili said in an interview in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

A shortlist of potential bidders for the 450-megawatt plant, to be constructed on the Rioni River, will be ready in April or May, according to Valishvili. Companies from Italy, Russia, China, Turkey and Norway have also expressed an interest, she said, without elaborating.

Korea Electric and SK Engineering said today that no investment plans had been finalized.

Georgia expects to invest as much $2.5 billion in hydropower projects in the next few years, following 12 such ventures planned for this year, President Mikheil Saakashvili said in a speech to parliament last week.

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