Jan 18, 2008
R20bn boiler contract not initially awarded to Hitachi – EskomBack
Alstom|Eskom|Hitachi|Hitachi Power Africa|Hitachi Power Europe|L&C Steinmüller Group|Mail & Guardian|Steinmüller|Germany|South Africa|African National Congress (ANC)|Eskom|Hermann Brümmer|Koss R-80 Consumer Headphones|Limpopo|The Mail & Guardian
© Reuse this South African power utility Eskom confirmed last month that the initial letter of award for the R20-billion Medupi boiler contract had, in fact, been extended to the Alstom Steinmüller consortium and not to the Hitachi consortium, which was officially named as the winning bidder on November 13.
The contract, awarded to Hitachi Power Africa and Hitachi Power Europe (Germany), is for six 800-MW utility steam generators for a coal-fired power station being built at a cost of R78,6-billion, at a site near Lephalale, in Limpopo province. The consortium will also supply a similar offering for the R80-billion-plus Project Bravo, which is to be built almost simultaneously at a site near Emalahleni, in Mpumalanga.
The revelation of a revised contract award is likely to raise eyebrows, coming as it does on the back of revelations that Chancellor House – which is said to have strong ties with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and has even been described by the Mail & Guardian as an ANC business front – is the 25% black economic-empowerment shareholder in Hitachi Power Africa.
CONFLICT OVER REFERENCES
Hitachi claims that, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, it is the current owner of all the know-how and references of the for-mer L&C Steinmüller Group, which includes the Majuba, Tutuka, Duvha and Kriel boilers, even though it did not build these facilities. But Steinmüller Africa MD Hermann Brummer told Engineering News recently that, while it was true that Hitachi acquired the know-how, such ownership could not be considered a sufficient basis for a claim of ‘references’.
Eskom had refrained from commenting on the award, but in its letter, dated December 11, asserted that an independent review by Deloitte had adjudged Eskom to have “acted diligently” and to have “followed due process” in the reassessment of the letter of award to Alstom Steinmüller, and that “given the urgency of the situation, Eskom’s decision to approach Hitachi was justified”.
“[There were a number] of technical and commercial issues that needed to be resolved with regard to the Alstom Steinmüller boiler tender and the Alstom Steinmüller Consortium did not accept the boiler letter of award. Amongst others, one of the issues related to a different interpretation of the scope of the works. This resulted in a significant difference in the prices originally tendered,” Eskom explained in the letter.
It said that, in an attempt to resolve the matter, Eskom suggested that an agreement be concluded that the outstanding matters be dealt with in terms of the mechanisms of the contract. But the Alstom Steinmüller Consortium rejected that proposal.
The utility then entered into a process of engagement with the con- sortium “in a final attempt to resolve the outstanding issues”, but this process failed and Eskom then informed the Alstom Steinmüller Consortium that it would consider alternatives.
“The choice faced by Eskom was to reissue the tender for the boiler package or to approach the other tenderer, that is the Hitachi Boiler Consortium, regarding the boiler tender. In the light of the delays that would result from a new tender process, the view was that it was necessary to ensure security of supply and it was, therefore, in Eskom’s best interests to approach the Hitachi Boiler Consortium. External legal opinion was also obtained in this regard and confirmed that this approach by Eskom was justifiable from a legal perspective,” the utility explained.
The upshot was a recommendation from the Eskom board tender committee and supported by the Eskom board that the Medupi boiler tender be awarded to the Hitachi Boiler Consortium. The contract was then signed at a function held at Eskom’s Megawatt Park head office, in November.
In the letter, Eskom stressed that the board was particularly concerned about the potential for “conflicts of interests” throughout the tender process and stated that “a detailed integrity check was done on the employees involved in the pro- cess as well as the members of exco, and the board, and that no concerns were reported”.
During this process, the participation of Chan- cellor House as a shareholder was reportedly highlighted in the Deloitte report. But the report concluded that “there was no information that indicated that there was any political influence in this regard”.
FLEET STRATEGY and BRAVO
The utility said the objective of the fleet model was to secure a supplier relationship that would allow Eskom to meet its capacity expansion objectives in the most effective and sustain- able manner.
For this reason, negotiations for the turbine and boiler packages for the second coal-fired station, currently dubbed Project Bravo, to be built in Mpumalanga, would also be conducted with the Alstom and Hitachi consortiums respectively.
“The fleet strategy is based on the award of the Medupi tender and, therefore, does not involve a tender process. In this regard, external legal opinions have confirmed that such an approach can be justified as meeting the constitutional requirements of a procurement process that is competitive, equitable, cost effective, fair and transparent,” Eskom stated.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Electricity News
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) has introduced a 4x2 derivative of its Pajero Sport sports-utility vehicle (SUV), which will give it access to a substantial slice of the full-size SUV market, where it will compete with the likes of the Ford Everest, Chevrolet...
South African Energy Minister Ben Martins has affirmed that the government wants the country to be globally competitive in the nuclear sector. "Our responsibility has always been ... to ensure that, in nuclear energy, South Africa can compete with the rest of the...
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann describes the new S-Class as “a special place to be”, with the car creating a sense of “wellness” once you are seated inside the German brand’s flagship model. It is difficult to argue...
Water scarcity and water-quality issues are broadly recognised and understood in most political, business and civil organisations in South Africa, but solving water issues will require wide and continuous action in catchments and municipalities by organisations and...
Work is well under way on the R212-million Imvutshane dam, 30 km north-west of Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key link in supplying people in rural Maphumulo with a reliable source of safe drinking water.