The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term credit institution, is providing an ECU 50 million loan for building a gas-fired heat and power station in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The combined cycle plant will have an electricity production capacity of 218 MWe and a heat supply capacity of 186 MWth. The new co-generation plant will replace obsolete and polluting oil-fired heat production units on the same site. It will supply power to the public grid and heat to residents of Bratislava and some industrial consumers.

The loan to Paroplynový cyklus Bratislava, a.s. (PPC), is for 15 years with a grace period up to two years. The loan agreement was signed today in Luxembourg by Mr. Anton Bielik, Chairman and Mr. Jozef Sekerka, Vice-Chairman, on behalf of PPC, and by EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth. Commenting on the loan, Mr. Roth said: 'This modern heat and power station will help meet the current and future demand for heat and power in Slovakia. It will also help to improve and conserve the environment by using natural gas instead of other fossil fuels, such as coal and heavy fuel oil. Securing a regular supply of clean energy is also crucial at a time when the country is adopting EU regulations and standards, with a view to preparing for Union membership.'

The loan brings total EIB financing in the Slovak Republic to ECU 665 million. Previous loans were for various road improvement schemes, for the rehabilitation of gas pipeline and storage facilities, the refurbishment of a coal-fired power station (Vojany), the modernisation of the telecommunications network and for upgrading the air-traffic control system. The EIB also provided global loans (credit lines) to the Slovak banking sector for financing investment by small and medium-scale companies.

Since it started lending in Central and Eastern Europe in 1990, the EIB has provided some 8 billion ECU for projects in Poland (2 151 million), the Czech Republic (1 792 million), Hungary (1 142 million), Romania (1 052 million), Slovakia (665 million), Bulgaria (446 million), Slovenia (325 million), Lithuania (148 million), Estonia (88 million), Albania (68 million) and Latvia (61 million). For the period 1998 to January 2000 a further ECU 5.6 billion has been earmarked for projects in the region, including ECU 150 million for transport and other infrastructure projects in the FYR Macedonia where the EIB began lending at the beginning of this year.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 June 1998, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.66 , IEP 0.78 , USD 1.09590 , SKK 38.5668.