Interview with Eng. Dimitar Beleliev Chairman of the Board of Directors in the Bulgarian company Centralna Energoremontna Baza

MachinesInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2013

We are planning to expand our activities in other Balkan countries

Eng. Beleliev, for the first time a Bulgarian company will implement projects in the energy market of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Could you give our readers details about the projects?
CERB will execute projects for over 1 million BGN till the end of 2013 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first project is for a technical review and repair of the generator in one of the largest power plants in the country - TPP Kakanj, which supplies with heat the capital city Sarajevo and the settlements around it. Our project was commissioned by the largest power company in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elektroprivreda BiH after performing a tender. We won in competition with several companies, including the global name in the industry - Croatian Concern KONCAR Zagreb. The generator that will be repaired was manufactured 45 years ago, with a capacity of 100 MW and weighs over 100 tons. It will be lifted by crane and the parts will be disassembled. Each part will go through technical inspection and, if necessary, rehabilitation will be carried out. The entire process will be completed within 2 months. The next order is NDT (non destructive testing) at the same facility. Other contracts are for repair of transformers and power supply valves for heating in the same plant. They are in the process of signing and will be announced additionally, when fully completed.

Recently, CERB was chosen by Macedonian electricity company MEPSO for two projects. What activities are involved in rehabilitation and modernization of electrical equipment in Duboi and Skopje?
CERB implements two projects in Macedonia, for which a contracting company is the Macedonian electricity company MEPSO. The first project is for the maintenance of power transformer in the wiring between Bulgaria and Macedonia, Dubrov - Stip, which was produced 30 years ago and costs 2 million EUR. By the repair works, which amount is 15% of its value, the life of the transformer will be extended by another 20 years. Except "Dubrov" CERB makes repairs in substation "Skopje 4".

In December 2012 transformer 31 MVA/110 kV was repaired and dispatched for EVN Macedonia. The volume of work includes Diagnostics of the transformer, Revision of the core, replacement of the cooling system and fittings of the transformer.

In late 2012, the company started working in Romania too. What challenges do you meet in the repair of high-voltage motors in the Romania’s leading specialty steels producer Mechel? Do you plan other activities in the country?
The project with Mechel is the first for us in Romania. It started actually in December 2012, after the motor went through diagnostics in our base. Mechel project is interesting, because our job is related to the industry as well, not only for companies in the energy generation and distribution.

Romania is a big market, not only in the energy sector. It is normal for company as CERB to have plans for working in the country. After successful projects as the rehabilitation of stator of hydro generator in HPP Kremasta, Greece, we want to expand in other countries in the Balkan region.

Romania is one of our priorities for 2013, and it will be challenge, because some of the big companies as Hidroelectrica, in fact have own units for rehabilitation and refurbishment. But we made our actual first steps and will continue our marketing plan.

In consortium with the Italian Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali SpA, recently CERB has finished the project in the Greek HPP Kremasta. What was the achieved effect by the rehabilitation?
It was one very good project for the all energy sector in Bulgaria. Let me explain - in 2011 there was an emergency repair work in the same stator of a hydro generator. We made it with our own efforts. In 2012 there was a project for full rehabilitation. And we performed the work on the project in a consortium with the Italian Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali SpA.

The result after the work of our constructors was that we increased the power from 100MW with 10%. The rehabilitation was completed before the deadline.

At the moment we have a project for full refurbishment of a transformer (52 MVA, 150 kV), once again, for the The Public Power Corporation S.A. which is implemented at our base.

What is your opinion about the energy infrastructure in Bulgaria compared to neighboring countries?
I think that the technical level of the Bulgarian energy sector is relatively good. This is true for our electricity network and hydroelectric facilities. Currently the energy sector is falling behind only about the new environmental requirements that we need to keep as a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and as EU member. This is the direction in which basically it has to invest. I think we have to invest funds primarily in district heating business. Investments in cogeneration (production of both heat and electricity) for example, can reduce the cost of heat.

Funds for repairs that are released at the time of the largest energy companies in the country are inadequate and are certainly less than before the privatization of the enterprises. District heating, for example, can invest money in new technologies such as pre-insulated pipes. There is no heating plant, which does not want to invest money for the equipment, but usually it is a matter of resources. Main funding for repairs comes from the companies themselves. Unfortunately, the European programs are slow, and the investor does not always have the time required for review and approval of the project.

In the Balkans there is an increase of investment in maintenance programs. Because of this we did a large number of orders in neighboring markets, especially on repairs and modernization of existing equipment.

What is your strategy for the future development of the company?
Our goals are towards stabilization and investment in higher productivity. We hired young professionals who are already qualifying in the job. The main direction of our business will continue to be outside Bulgaria. We have projects in Greece, Macedonia, Georgia, etc. Only 30% of our business is in Bulgaria.