Bolivia signed a memorandum of understanding with Hydrochina Corporation that calls for the Chinese state-owned firm to conduct a free feasibility study for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, the Andean nation's richest region, the Hydrocarbons and Energy Ministry said.

The memorandum was signed Friday night by Hydrocarbons and Energy Minister Juan Jose Sosa and Hydrochina Corporation representatives in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to Bolivia Li Dong, the ministry said in a statement.

The document calls for Hydrochina to provide the feasibility study to the Bolivian government on the Rositas hydroelectric power project in Santa Cruz within 90 days "at no charge."

If Bolivia accepts the study, Hydrochina would design and build the power plant, which the Bolivian government says would have an installed generating capacity of 400 MW.

Failure to submit the feasibility study within the timeframe established in the memorandum would void the agreement, the ministry said.

President Evo Morales's administration says the Rositas hydroelectric power plant would allow Bolivia to meet its power needs, especially in rural areas, and export electricity to neighboring countries. EFE