First Minister, Chief Executive, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a cháirde; tá áthas an domhain orm as bheith anseo libh inniú in Amorebieta. It is my pleasure to be here with you today to mark the opening of the €500 million Amorebieta power plant, which went into commercial operation on the 30th August.
I would like to congratulate ESB International on the completion of the first internationally owned Independent Power Plant in Spain, which is now delivering up to 755MW of electricity onto the Spanish electricity system. ESB has been responsible for the development of the project from start to finish and, most notably, has successfully managed to deliver it on time and within budget.
I am aware that the Amorebieta plant is creating local business and employment opportunities and, through local subcontracts, the huge construction effort has already brought many direct and indirect benefits to the regional and local economies. At the peak of construction over 700 people worked on site, many of whom I understand were local contractors and suppliers. The plant is now being operated by ESBI's Operations & Maintenance team of approximately 40 people, the great majority of whom have been recruited locally.
I am advised that the new Amorebieta plant represents the largest inward investment in the Basque region. Most of the capital cost of the project has been raised through a major project financing deal signed in February 2003. It involved the syndication of 24 international banks from ten different countries, including a number of the leading Spanish and Irish banks.
The Irish government has fully supported the project development process from start to finish and approved the company’s investment in the Spanish plant. I am also pleased to note that throughout the project’s development and construction, ESBI has received the full co-operation of the Spanish, Basque and Bizkaia governments and institutions.
The construction of this plant is of great importance to the region. Using the most up-to-date large-scale gas turbine technology to produce clean, high quality, competitive electricity, the plant will contribute to the growing demand for electricity in the Basque Country and other regions with the capacity to produce a third of the region’s annual energy requirements.
I have been informed that ESB has had a very positive experience with the Spanish suppliers and the technical service providers with which it has had dealings in that period of time. The company has also built up a very strong team locally which will enable ESB to build on the success of Amorebieta and in the future develop new projects in Spain.
The Amorebieta plant is ESB’s largest international investment project to date. The company has been growing its international business over the past 25 years through wide experience and a successful track record in managing operations in highly competitive and diverse markets.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish ESBI’s equity partners in the project, Osaka Gas, a long and fruitful relationship with ESBI over the lifetime of the plant.
In conclusion, let me say that great credit is due to ESBI, those who constructed the plant and the local representatives and community who helped bring this project forward to fruition. The completion of the Amorebieta Power Plant is an achievement in which you can all take pride and I would like to take this opportunity to wish it every success for many years to come.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.