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REFILE-Bosnia's EPBiH invites bids for a 450 MW coal-fired unit
(Refiles to fix garble in fifth paragraph)
* Application deadline expires on Sept. 14
* Project is one of largest in Bosnia energy sector
SARAJEVO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Bosnia's top power utility EPBiH invited on Friday potential bidders to express interest in building a 450 megawatt coal-fired unit at its Tuzla plant at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion Bosnian marka ($949 million).
The project will be one of the largest investments into the Balkan country's energy infrastructure which requires heavy investment as many of its coal-fired plants are way past their prime, while the consumption is forecast to grow.
EPBiH said potential bidders could file their letters of interest by September 14 after which a tender panel will shortlist the candidates for further negotiations.
Under the tender terms, the government of the Muslim-Croat federation, one of Bosnia's two postwar autonomous regions, will guarantee a long-term raw material supply for the future unit in which EPBiH will hold a majority stake.
The unit will be managed jointly for an unspecified period of time after which EPBiH will retain the ownership, EPBiH said, adding that it would agree with a future partner on how the energy produced by the unit will be shared.
EPBiH operates two coal-fired plants and three hydro-power plants with a combined capacity of 1,165 MW and 517 MW, respectively.
In 2010 Swiss energy firm Alpiq had bid to become a strategic investor for the new unit at Tuzla but a new EPBiH managment scrapped the tender due to what it said were unfavourable power sharing terms offered by Alpiq.
The Tuzla plant in northern Bosnia currenly has six units and produces 3,100 GWh of electricity a year.
Unlike other countries in the Western Balkans that rely on imports to cover much of their consumption, Bosnia is a net power exporter but EPBiH had said a prolonged drought has lowered its hydro power output to 3,280 GWh in the first half of 2012, or 42 percent below target. ($1= 1.58 Bosnian marka)
(Reporting By Maja Zuvela; editing by Keiron Henderson)
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