By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Ecuador's government said on Friday it was working to set up a private sector tender for the construction, financing and operation of a $3 billion hydroelectric project, which would be the South American nation's largest.
The Santiago project in the Amazonia region, with a capacity of 2,400 megawatts and eight generation units, would take six years to build according to technical studies, the state-run energy company Corporacion Electrica del Ecuador (CELEC) said in a statement.
"The concession would include the financing, design, construction, implementation, administration, operation and maintenance for 30 years of what would be the largest hydroelectrical facility in the history of the country," CELEC said.
The first step is the hiring of a specialized firm to set up the tender within 18 months, the statement added.
The project, delayed for several years because of lack of public financing, would allow Ecuador to increase energy exports to neighbors Peru and Colombia, it added.
Ecuador's conservative President Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, is seeking to revive the COVID-hit economy through increased foreign investment in sectors like energy, electricity and mining.
Coca Codo Sinclair, with a capacity of 1,500 megawatts, is Ecuador's largest hydroelectric facility but technical failures have impeded its operations.
Its capture system is also threatened by regressive erosion on the Coca river which has also damaged oil pipelines. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)