China to finance 637MW Argentine dam

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Argentine construction firm Helport signed a preliminary agreement with China's Yellow River Engineering Consulting for construction and financing of the 637MW Chihuido multipurpose dam planned for Neuquén province.

Financing, the amount of which was not provided, will come from Bank of China, state news outlet Neuquén Informa reported.

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Helport leads the consortium that won the contract to build Chihuido during Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's administration.

Russia had originally pledged to finance construction under the Kirchner government but talks broke down when officials of current President Mauricio Macri's administration sought to renegotiate interest rates on loans, according to Argentine press reports.

Under the latest agreement signed in Beijing on Wednesday, the parties "must reach a definitive agreement on the commercial aspects and formally begin the negotiation of the contract and financial conditions" within 45 days.

The Chihuido update coincides with the signing of financing and cooperation agreements by Macri and Chinese president Xi Jinping for some US$15bn worth of projects in Argentina, including its fourth and fifth nuclear reactors, and the three-phase Cauchari solar project in Jujuy province totaling 300MW.

Cauchari will require investment of US$400mn, and will be financed by a consortium of Chinese and Argentine banks, the Jujuy government said Wednesday.

The fifth nuclear reactor will be built at a yet-to-be-determined location in Río Negro province and require investment of US$8bn, with work set to begin in early 2020, according to the provincial government.