ESB cashes in 50% stake in Spanish power plant for €75m

THE ESB has sold a 50% stake in its Spanish power plant to a Japanese gas company for around €75 million.

The State-owned company said yesterday that its international arm, ESBI, has sold a 50% stake in the Amorebieta plant in Bilbao to Gas & Power Investments, a subsidiary of the Osaka Gas Company of Japan.

The gas-fired power station is currently under construction at the cost of €500m and will be in operation late next year. The 755 megawatt plant will be capable of supplying 30% of the energy requirement for the Basque region of Spain.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said the deal was a vote of confidence in ESB’s strategy of developing and financing the first internationally-owned independent power plant in the Spanish electricity market.

“The partnership agreement is a recognition of the importance and value of the Amorebieta project. It is an endorsement of the company’s international investment strategy,” said Mr McManus.

ESB International has been a good venture for the company. In July it won a major contract to provide engineering and advisory services to Norwegian oil giant Statoil for the development and construction of its first large-scale combined cycle gas power plant in Norway.

It is also nearing the completion of a 400MW electricity station at Coolkeragh in Derry, which will be operational next March.

Mr McManus said that ESBI has a number of other projects in the pipeline on the verge of completion.

The Spanish deal will make up for the disappointment of failing to win the massive contract to maintain the electricity transmission grid across half a dozen states in the south of the US.

The deal, which was worth up to $750m, was abandoned late last year by the US authorities.

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