(Adds details, context on Abengoa concessions in Brazil)
BRASILIA, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Brazil’s government is in talks with several foreign companies interested in taking over construction work of new power transmission lines left by struggling Spanish conglomerate Abengoa, Minister of Mines and Energy Eduardo Braga said on Thursday.
Braga declined to name the companies but said they were big players interested in buying or associating with Abengoa. He told foreign correspondents that the government expects to find a solution for the situation soon and resume construction of the power lines, which was halted in late November.
Abengoa holds concessions to build and operate 6,300 kilometers (3,900 miles) of transmission lines in Brazil that are vital to connecting dozens of wind farms to the grid.
It is also due to construct a line carrying power from the world’s third-largest hydroelectric power dam, Belo Monte, in the Amazon state of Para to Brazil’s power-hungry northeast region starting in August.
The construction stoppage could become a serious setback in Brazil’s efforts to emerge from an energy supply crisis.
“There are large companies looking to buy or to partner with Abengoa on those projects. We are talking to them with a view of resuming construction,” said Braga during a meeting with foreign journalists.
Abengoa has confirmed the pause on all its projects in Brazil and said it is looking to sell the concessions or find a partner with capital to allow for the works to continue.
Braga said Brazil is coming out of the worst energy crisis in 14 years, as favorable rains are replenishing hydropower plants’ reservoirs.
He said power consumption fell around 2 percent in Brazil this year due to the economic crisis, but the government expects demand to pick up next year. “We are prepared to cover that,” he said.
The minister sees a huge development of distributed generation in Brazil in the next 15 years, particularly related to solar power installations.
He expects the solar industry to reach a size similar to the wind power industry in Brazil over that period. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)