LJUBLJANA Jan 15 Slovenia's government will
continue building a new unit at its Sostanj coal-fired power
plant, even though the cost has doubled to nearly $2 billion,
its prime minister said.
"We don't have the privilege to decide whether this project
can still be stopped. The data we have show halting it would be
more expensive than completion," Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek
was quoted as saying by the national STA agency on Wednesday.
The project to add the 600 megawatt (MW) block is the
biggest energy investment underway in Slovenia, which narrowly
avoided a bailout last month as the government pumped 3.2
billion euros ($4.4 billion) into its debt-laden banks.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided 650 million euros
in loans for the project to replace two exisiting units at the
791 MW power plant and boost its electricity output by 30
French power and transport engineering firm Alstom
is among the contractors on the project, which started in 2012.
The unit is scheduled to enter test operation in 2015.
Analysts say the viability of the investment rests on the
price of coal from nearby Velenje coal mines, a subsidiary of
the state-run power utility HSE which operates the project. They
say the price of 2.25 euros per gigajoule, on which the project
is based, is too low.
But HSE says the agreed long-term coal price was crucial to
securing loans from international lenders.
($1 = 0.7306 euros)
(Reporting by Almir Demirovic; Writing by Maja Zuvela; Editing
by Anthony Barker)