Chile's Enap sets sights on power market

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The CEO of Chile's national oil company Enap, Marcelo Tokman, defended a bill that would allow the company to enter the power generation market as a minority stakeholder.

Under current law, Enap is only allowed to participate in geothermal projects or projects directly linked to hydrocarbon activities.

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The bill, which the energy ministry submitted to the lower house of the national congress, would allow Enap to hold up to a 49% stake in JV generation projects with private companies.

Tokman told legislators the bill would create more favorable conditions for the country's energy sector by lowering costs, ensuring long-term production and introducing new private actors and generation technologies, a lower house release said.

Enap already holds a 15% stake in a cogeneration plant at its Biobío refinery, and is building a combined cycle plant and a cogeneration plant at its Aconcagua refinery. Enap is also part of two groups that are exploring Chile's geothermal potential, and has made it a goal to bring the country's first geothermal plant into operation as part of its 2014-25 strategy.

Tokman said there are several natural gas-powered projects that Enap could help bring online under the legislation. Construction and operation of JV projects would remain in the hands of private partners with proven experience, Tokman added.

Loosely translated, one of the seven planks of the ministry's 2014-18 energy agenda involves the transformation of Enap into a "robust company so that it can play a leading role in helping the country overcome its energy challenges."

The Enap bill is currently under review by the house mining and energy committee.

Enap's Aconcagua refinery, where the NOC is building both a combined cycle plant and a cogeneration plant. (Credit: Enap)