Powerships: Inside the Karadeniz Money-Spinning Global Empire

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  • The powership conglomerate earns an astonishing amount from its specialist offering to frail and broken states.
  • Many of its deals around the world have been criticised as exploitative and irrational.
  • South Africa may become the biggest prize of all.
  • And we have already helped fund the growth of this corporate empire.

Karadeniz Holdings, the company that hopes to moor powerships in three local ports, commands a rapidly expanding fleet of these seaborne power plants, raking in over $1-billion per year around the world.

Most of this was built in the past five years alone, bearing testimony to the group’s aggressive strategy of courting governments that are, as chief executive Orhan Karadeniz once told an American diplomat, “desperate” for electricity.

This success has, however, often relied on what are arguably opaque and ill-conceived deals that favour the company over the client state.

In at least two significant cases, credible allegations of corruption have been made, leading to formal investigations, as amaBhungane has previously reported. In other instances, deals seem so patently against the self-interest of the governments signing the contracts that questions of probity are unavoidable.

Other recurring features include an insistence on large prepayments and costly government-backed guarantees as well as a willingness to resort to cutting the power off if payments are missed or disputes arise

Despite growing success elsewhere in the world, it is also clear that South Africa remains the elusive Moby Dick.

Karpowership recently suffered a serious setback when the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment shot down its environmental impact assessments. This could jeopardise its status as preferred bidder to provide 1,220MW of capacity under the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s emergency Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMI4P).

Read more of this exclusive story from the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism HERE



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