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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ecuadorian gov't militarizes hydroelectric plant

QUITO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Ecuadorian government on Wednesday ordered the militarization of the San Francisco hydroelectric plant to compel Brazilian construction company Norberto Odebrecht to accept its demands.

Some 70 soldiers were guarding the San Francisco plant Wednesday, which is located on the border of Tungurahua and Pastaza provinces, Ecuadorian TV channel Ecuavisa reported.

The plant, built by Norberto Odebrecht, began operations in mid-2007, but has been halted since early June because of construction problems.

Ecuadorian authorities have demanded the payment of a fine of 200,000 U.S. dollars per day from Odebrecht because of the disruption. The total amount has so far reached some 24 million dollars.

Authorities insisted the Brazilian company should also pay for repairs to the plant.

Jorge Glas, president of the Solidarity Fund, which manages shares in state-owned companies on behalf of the government, warned that if Odebrecht did not accept the above demands, the government would stop contracts with Odebrecht on several other major projects worth 800 million dollars.

"They had better be ready to leave the country, because all the contracts they have with Ecuador will end," Glas told journalists.

The San Francisco plant, which was built at a cost of 338 million dollars, has a capacity to generate 230 megawatts of electricity.

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