Yesterday evening, municipally owned Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) announced the award of a contract for “executing the missing concrete for the embedment of turbine number 4, as well as the connection and emptying of the concrete” at the Hidroituango hydroelectric project. The winning bidder is Colombian firm Schrader Camargo S.A.S. The re-bidding of this contract came after appointees of Medellín Mayor Daniel Quintero at EPM sought to change the terms of the contract with the existing contractor, Consortium CCCI.
Last year, the consortium, made up of Brazil’s Camargo Correa (55%), Colombian firms Constructora Conconcreto (35%), and Coninsa Ramón H (10%) filed libel and slander charges against Quintero for what they say are malicious and untrue statements about the consortium’s integrity and construction quality. The consortium was a political target of Quintero since his 2019 mayoral campaign.
Above photo: Hidroituango Turbine Unit 3 awaits concrete.
According to news daily El Colombiano, Schrader Camargo S.A.S. is a co-bidder with Chinese firm Yellow River, who asked EPM to modify the bidder specifications, for example reducing the experience requirement of qualifying bidders from 94,500 cubic meters (experience in the construction of tunnel portals, canals, spillways, or bridges), down to 28,350 cubic meters.
Changing contractors during the construction process creates additional risks for delays and flaws in the project. Not only do delays create financial risks for EPM and the city of Medellín, but according to a 432 page independent report submitted by engineering consulting firm Pöyry/Afry, further delay in finishing the project, bringing all eight turbines into production, also creates structural risks for the dam because of the stresses of the river flow going over the spillway or through bypass tunnels instead of through the generation turbines.
EPM insists that “…the civil works and the assembly of the electromechanical equipment corresponding to units 1 and 2, were duly completed and it is expected that after the results of all the necessary tests that are currently being carried out, these first two turbines will begin to deliver 600 MW of power before November 30.” If not, EPM faces a $170 million USD fine for violating energy provision commitments, and up to $990 million dollars in additional liabilities for losses to the national electrical grid if Hidroituango is not contributing agreed amounts of electricity.
The contract awarded yesterday is only for turbine units 3 and 4 of Hidroituango’s eight. EPM opened a bidding process for the work related to turbines 5 through 8 back in March of this year, with a closing date for receipt of bids set as November 4, this Friday.
(photo: Loren Moss)