PRAGUE. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Czech state-controlled utility CEZ, Central Europe's largest company in terms of market capitalization, already this year plans to launch a CZK 2-3 bln tender to find suppliers for building second and third units at its Temelin nuclear power plant, ahead of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), daily E15 reported Thursday.
"We will not call a tender for suppliers in the first quarter]. The EIA process and the selection, however, could take place in parallel," CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz said, as cited by the daily. "But we are in the initial planning stages  and have not made any decisions."
According to initial plans, the utility was to have launched the tender for a technology supplier chosen in 2010. Construction of the additional Temelin units could now begin in 2013 and production in 2020, E15 said, adding that the tender process could last more than a year, and interested parties need at least six months to prepare bids.
CEZ may be launching the tender now because the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is moving more slowly than expected and CEZ would rather run the two processes concurrently, not sequentially, analyst Bram Buring of brokerage Wood&Co. said in a note to clients.
"Moreover the environment ministry would like to know which reactors CEZ will use to include the information in the EIA," Buring said. "Separately, the Greens [Party Chairman Martin] Bursik threatened to pull out of the [government] coalition if proposed changes to the EIA process were passed that would speed up the process."
Prospective bidders for the contract worth some CZK 2-3 bln include Mitsubishi (Japan), Atomenergoprojekt (Russia), Westinghouse (U.S.A.) and (332 EUR, -1,07%) (France), the daily reported.
The project includes four versions, according to reactor type, with new blocks having an output at least 1056 MW. "In the strongest version, there are two reactors, each of 1700 MW. The output of Temelin would go up by up to 3400 MW, which is over more than 2.5 times what it is now," E15 said.
CEZ, listed in Prague and Warsaw, announced Wednesday it will increase to CZK 5 bln its planned investment for 2009-2010 into electricity production - some CZK 4 bln than initially planned during the period for modernization its power stations and making them more ecological.
The utility has also earmarked another CZK 1.1 bln to planned capital expenditure to upgrade its distribution network.