08 June 2005 11:34 [Source: ICIS news]
PRAGUE (CNI)--The tendering process for five bioethanol plants to be built in the Czech Republic at a cost of Koruna2bn ($81.3m/Euro66.3m) is caught up in controversy amid claims that the interests of a sole equipment supplier are being unlawfully promoted, CNI learned Wednesday.
Companies which lost out in the tender’s first round claim that those bidders who pledge to buy technology from America’s Katzen International will be preferred for the contracts to be awarded by the Czech Ministry of the Environment (MZP).
The claim is backed by Katzen's rival suppliers, including Lurgi Praha, a Prague-based subsidiary of ?xml:namespace>
Moravsky Lihovar Kojetin, a Czech company which was rejected in the first round, had intended to use the Lurgi Praha technology. Wehnert said Lihovar Kojetin was now looking at ways to challenge the legitimacy of the tender. After consulting lawyers, Wehnert added, he had supplied the company with information about what he saw as controversial elements of the tender.
Oldrich Reinbergr, chairman of another of the excluded bidders, Cukrovary TTD, told CNI: “Cukrovary TTD will, with the support of French parent company Tereos, make use of all available legal means, on national and European level, to do anything to have this unfair and illegal tender annulled.”
He added: “Preference is clearly being given to Katzen brand technology, as it solely fits the set requirements. This is contrary to official rules and regulations on equal opportunities for enterprising entities and contrary to the conditions for fair competition.”
Reinbergr said the tender had also ruled out technology from
Katzen intends to supply its technology for the plants through Omnipol, one of the largest Czech exporters and importers of military and aircraft technology, which is increasingly moving into civilian sectors.
Cukrovary TTD has asked the MZP to scrutinise relationships between Omnipol executives and MZP representatives for answers as to why key tender parameters were tailored to Katzen know-how.
Neither Katzen nor Omnipol responded to CNI's requests for comment.
MZP spokeswoman Karolina Sulova said Minister for the Environment Libor Ambrozek was investigating the complaints, but added that the tender was continuing as scheduled.
She said MZP atmosphere department officials believed two other technologies were viable for the requested plants besides Katzen’s. However, she added, confidentiality requirements meant she was unable to provide any details as to what they were.
The plants will help meet European Union (EU) targets for admixing bioethanol into petrol. The plant licences are to run from 2007 to 2012. Each tender winner should produce a fifth of approximately 160,000 tonne/year of bioethanol which the
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