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Hydro invests millions in Qatar

Cheap gas has tempted Hydro to make a massive investment in Qatar’s desert and the company has signed on to build what may become the world’s largest aluminium plant.

The investment frame will the first time around amount to about NOK 20 billion (USD 3.3 billion), and Hydro will put in about half that amount, according to the Norwegian financial paper Dagens Næringsliv. Hydro will own 49 percent of the shares, while the government controlled oil company Qatar Petroleum will own the remaining 51 percent.

To begin with the plant will have a capacity of 570,000 tons crude aluminium, and it will be fully operational as of 2009.

Sources in the Hydro system said to paper that Hydro can purchase power in Qatar at prices that are quite impossible in Norway, even with the gas power plant at Kårstø.

According to Hydro, the project is a strategic investment. The products from the plant will be sold world wide. In addition, there is talk of an investment in a gas power plant and a foundry.

Analyst Anne Gjøen at the broking firm Alfred Berg ABN Ambro claims Hydro’s massive investment in Qatar is a positive one.

«Qatar is one of the absolute best areas for these types of investments,» Gjøen said. «When you think about Hydro’s problems with expensive power contracts in Germany, this is really positive.»

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