(Bloomberg) – Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, Latin America’s largest utility, aims to build power plants in Peru, Guyana, Argentina and other Latin American countries to secure energy supplies as economic growth picks up, a minister said.
“Brazil wants that, and neighbour countries are also interested,” Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said in an interview yesterday. “We want to boost security in Brazil’s power-generation capacity.”
Eletrobras, as the state-controlled company is known, plans to help build five power plants in Peru with a total capacity to produce about 5,000 megawatts and a 800-megawatt dam in Guyana, Lobao said.
The company also aims to build a hydroelectric plant in Argentina and is studying projects in Bolivia, he said.
Latin America’s largest economy is seeking ways to increase and diversify its power generation capacity as the country’s growth outpaces other emerging economies.
Brazil, which economists expect to expand 4.2 percent in 2010, needs 100,000 megawatts of additional electricity-generation capacity in the next 20 years so the economy “doesn’t stall,” Lobao said at an event yesterday.
Eletrobras rose 0.4 percent to 25.25 reais in Sao Paulo trading yesterday, extending this year’s gain to 4.4 percent. That compares with a 64 percent rise for the benchmark Bovespa index in 2009.
Eletrobras is seeking to buy an energy company in Peru to bid for two dam projects, Chief Executive Officer Jose Muniz said Aug. 11. Acquisitions are “a way to expand” abroad, he said.
The company is investing at least 30 billion reais ($17 billion) through 2012 to increase power generation and transmission lines. The spending plan may rise should the company make acquisitions or win rights to new projects, Chief Financial Officer Astrogildo Quental said last month.
The utility is also seeking investment opportunities in the U.S., Central America and Africa, Quental has said.
A regional power-grid integration is a “strategic” goal for Brazil, Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the Brazil’s energy research agency, said.
Eletrobras will seek majority stakes in all projects abroad. The company will consider assuming a minority stake if the project is controlled by a Brazilian company, Lobao said.
“It’s also a geopolitical” strategy, Lobao said. “If we are able to produce cheap energy in other countries, we will get it and maybe export cheaper power to other countries.”
Brazil will import power generated by the Guyana dam that’s not needed in that country, Lobao has said. Guyana is likely to use just 100 megawatts from the 800-megawatt project, he said.
Brazil’s national bank for economic and social development, or BNDES, is willing to finance power projects abroad, Lobao said.
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