Ignoring the insistent requests from the academy, union organizations and even a ruling from the Pöyry firm, EPM advances in the public tender that could change the builders of Hidroituango. To attend to the magnitude of this work, financial muscle is needed and knowledge of the construction milestones; For this reason, some of the ten firms that set aside quotas in the process leave doubts, or at least questions.
Another concern is that EPM is very anxious to put the project’s eight generation units into operation, and changing the company would go against that goal.
Within that group of interested parties, who, if they want to enter the final bid, must present their offer before June 23, there are companies of all sizes, experience and reputation.
On the side of the current contractors (CCCI Consortium), the only company that bought the specifications was Coninsa. After that decision, there are two scenarios for this corporation: either submit its offer on its own to the tender or do it through a consortium, which could be joined by Camargo Corrêa Infra and Conconcreto, the two remaining members of CCCI, and those who know the work like the palm of the hand.
As EL COLOMBIANO was able to learn, within the analyzes made by Coninsa, the very possibility of continuing in the work appears, although they also take into account the financial and technical risks that the project maintains, especially in its southern zone. In this sector, the messes range from what to do with the landslides that occurred in the mountain in 2018, how to rebuild the pipes and what to do with some cavities, empty spaces that were opened by the uncontrolled passage of water through the cavern.
In addition to Coninsa, there are also three companies that had already expressed their interest in the project since last year.
As recorded by EL COLOMBIANO in September 2021, from a group of eight companies that at that time had already toured the work at the invitation of EPM, they were encouraged to buy the specifications Sinohydro (a subsidiary of the Powerchina International group), Termotecnica Coindustrial SAS and Mincivil SA
the chinese giant
Of this first group, the largest is Sinohydro, a Chinese giant recognized for participating in the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, and in Latin America in the construction of two Venezuelan thermoelectric plants, the El Tambolar hydroelectric plant, in Argentina, and the Coca Codo Sinclair plant in Ecuador.
Although Sinohydro would have its size and experience in favor of winning the contract, the company also has reputational problems, especially for its role in the construction of Coca Codo Sinclair.
With a cost of about USD 2,245 million and a generation capacity of 1,500 megawatts (almost a third of the Ecuadorian electricity system), this hydroelectric plant has been reported since 2016 as having failures in its distributors, due to more than 7,000 cracks that began to appear. after its inauguration in 2016.
On this situation, the Comptroller of Ecuador had issued a report in February 2019 warning of the risk of a collapse in the powerhouse and calculating damage to the State of about 10 million dollars.
Seeking compensation for these damages, since May of last year the Electric Corporation of Ecuador (Celec EP) even went to an international arbitration court to file a lawsuit against the Chinese giant.
Needless to say, Hidroituango cannot afford a flawed construction after the 2018 contingency. The appearance of cracks would not be only an economic concern in this case.
Along with Sinohydro, another Chinese company that bought the participation rights was Yellow River Co Ltd., which within the regional construction sector is seen as little known and lacking in major references.
Among the companies that had already toured Hidroituango in 2021 are also Mincivil SA and Termotecnica Coindustrial SAS
On the Mincivil side, it stands out that it had already submitted to the tender opened by EPM in 2012, as a member of the OMS Ituango Consortium, also made up of the companies Norberto Odebrecht SA and the construction company Solarte Solarte.
Although as a member of this consortium, the company was unable to win the main works, it later presented itself with another consortium (MISPE Ituango) for the contract to build the most important road for the hydroelectric plant, with an extension of 37 kilometers, 9 tunnels and 65 bridges. , between the municipalities of Ituango and Briceño. This last contract had a value of $401,684 million.
On the Termotecnica Coindustrial side, it also has experience in the hydroelectric sector, especially for its role in the execution of the Eastern Antioquia Expansion Plan, under which the San Carlos, Calderas, Playas and Jaguas hydroelectric plants were built. According to that company on its website, it also has experience in the construction of roads and in road and airport concessions.
In the case of the remaining companies, Schrader Camargo, Ingema and Civilec have construction experience in the energy sector; Serviminas, construction experience in the mining sector; and 4 Towers, in general civil engineering.
Although the term to present the final offers will be until June, several voices have already questioned the conditions that EPM reflected in the specifications.
José Fernando Villegas, director in Antioquia of the Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure (CCI), insisted that despite the greater technical experience demonstrated by the participating companies, it has already been exhaustively documented that the best guarantee for the work to run the least possible risk is that the builders who are already drenched in the problems that have arisen since the collapse of the Auxiliary Diversion Gallery, in April 2018, remain.
Regarding the specifications, Villegas stated that the ICC has doubts about an evaluation method for EPM where the performance of the companies with which it has already contracted in the past is rated and based on the results it could make discounts in the final score, which would affect the CCCI consortium.
In his opinion, this mechanism could put some companies in unequal conditions with others.
Other sources pointed out that at the financial level, another issue of concern is the absence of an all-risk policy for the remaining works, whose contracting would remain in the hands of the builder chosen by EPM, a rarity in this type of contracting. It must be remembered that EPM self-insured Hidroituango, a figure that leaves many doubts up to now.
Looking ahead to the start and progress of the bidding process for Hidroituango, we explain some of the main questions.
What are the risks with a new contractor?
Giving rise to the landing of a new builder goes against all the technical recommendations, including the one made last February by the Chilean consulting firm Pöyry. This, in its report on the stability of the main works of the plant, stated that EPM should avoid modifying the main actors of the project because this would mean new delays and reduce the traceability in the recovery of the work. The manager of EPM, Jorge Carrillo Cardoso, justified at the time that a new contracting process was needed for the completion of the project. “We think we can get better yields and better economics,” he said. Pöyry had another concept in his technical report, in which he says that the effective management by EPM of the corresponding contracts constitutes a requirement to avoid an untimely extension of the contingency. “According to our experience, the new companies will need several months to understand and verify all the challenges and challenges of the project, and in the end they can ask for compensation above EPM’s expectations or even decline their participation,” he said. The Thought Center of the EIA University conceptualized on the same line. Last month he said that the change of contractor was “reckless” because it increased the risk to the stability of the project, with possible catastrophic consequences due to situations of vulnerability that affect key structures of the project due to a prolonged unforeseen operation of the spillway, the dam , the stilling bowl, among others. The opening of the tender even gave President Iván Duque a reply, who said two weeks ago at the Proantioquia assembly that hopefully the possibility of bringing in new contractors “is not to justify lawsuits, fights and discrepancies.” The president affirmed that he must continue to prioritize good sense so that turning on the remaining six units “is not going to become an illusion.”
When and in what form would a new builder land?
Since last December, EPM and the CCCI consortium (Camargo Correa, Coninsa Ramón H and Conconcreto) have agreed on a new extension of the Hidroituango construction contract for 11 months, with the last three to advance a joint with a possible new builder. Although an exact figure for the value of this extension cannot be determined, because it will depend on the work fronts that are completed until November 30, EPM has $600,000 million available to cover the costs of the execution of CCCI. Something should be noted: the last two extensions in the project were signed jointly between EPM and the three main consortiums: the constructor (CCCI), the auditor (Ingetec-Sedic Consortium) and the designer advisor (Generation Ituango Consortium). However, in the current process no terms have been published for new contractors to come in to take over the supervision or design, so the continuity of only one of the three consortiums in charge of the plant is at stake: the builder, against whom Mayor Daniel Quintero has charged repeatedly since he took office. The eventual new constructor will have three months of junction, from September 1, but will face a complete time trial to be able to fulfill the commitments. It will have to put six of the eight remaining units into operation (the first two must be switched on before November 30): two in 2023, three in 2024 and one in 2025. The greatest urgency will lie in the two turbines for next year because the The megaproject will only honor its firm energy commitment with four turbines operating before November 2023. Until the four units are in place, it will not fully comply with the reliability charge.
What works does the tender that was opened contemplate?
According to the technical construction specifications, annexed in the appendices of the public offer, there are several scopes of the contract. The first part is the external works, related to excavations, treatments and protection works on slopes; adaptation of drainage works; maintenance and cleaning of the berms and slopes such as the spillway, the dam shoulder and the upper part of the diversion portal; protection works in the upper part of the floodgate square; continuity in the stabilization treatments on the dam replacement route; and routine maintenance of the project’s industrial roads. Another chapter is the underground works, in which there are several possibilities contemplated. One of them is the alternative of connecting the upper elbows of the pressure wells of pipes 3 and 4 with the intermediate discharge tunnel, through the construction of a gallery in the upper part and a vertical well with an approximate height of 60 meters and an excavation diameter of 6.5 meters. It is possible that within the scope of the works, the contractor must carry out interventions in the galleries of the mega-plant. It must also execute the works required for the recovery of the underground works, such as concrete installation, assembly of the generating units, construction of the services building, the control room, architectural finishes, stabilization and recovery of construction and access galleries. Additionally, it must contemplate the works in conjunction with the other contractors of assemblies, networks, auxiliary systems and other works that are considered required in the cavern complex. At the construction site, more than 8,000 workers work on the fronts, while physical execution exceeds 87%.
Before June 23, 2022, interested companies must present their final offer to keep the Hidroituango works. The conditions of EPM cause doubts in experts.