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Emfesz, Hungarian gas trader, to build $2 bln power plant

Emfesz Kft., a Hungarian natural-gas trader, plans to spend 400 bln forint ($2.05 billion) to build a power plant in the eastern part of the country.

Emfesz will begin construction of the 800-megawatt gas-fired plant in 2011, said Boris Shestakov, a company spokesman, by e-mail today. The plant would be expandable to 2,400 megawatts, he said. Hungary, which relies on imported power more than any European Union country except Italy, wants to cut its dependence on foreign energy. Stoppages in oil and natural-gas flows from Russia to Europe have affected the nation the past two years. „The power plant can provide a substantial portion of the country's electricity needs,” Shestakov said in his e-mail. „The secure and continuous operation of the new power plan can stabilize Hungarian energy prices in the long term.” The country produced 33,708 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2004 and imported an additional 10,524 gigawatt-hours to meet demand, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

Total use will rise to as much as 56,000 gigawatt-hours in 2020, according to a projection by Paksi Atomerőmű Rt, the state-owned company that runs Hungary's only nuclear power plant, which accounts for 40% of power production. Emfesz, owned by Cyprus-based Mabofi Holdings, was set up in 2003 to sell gas in eastern Europe. It imports natural gas from central Asian countries under a contract with RosUkrEnergo, a Swiss company 50% owned by OAO Gazprom. It sells natural gas, including fuel from Turkmenistan, in Hungary and Poland, and has said it plans to expand further in Europe. The company is negotiating with Ukrainian power company Ukrinterenergo to import electricity, Budapest-based daily Világgazdaság reported in October. Emfesz is also looking to buy natural-gas fields in Russia and may sell as many as 35% of its shares to investors on the Budapest Stock Exchange (BÉT). The online version of Napi Gazdaság earlier reported the plan to build the power plant. (Bloomberg)