Management board of Bosnian power utility ERS resigns over losses

SARAJEVO, April 20 (Reuters) - The management board of Bosnia’s second largest power utility ERS have resigned over losses the company could not account for, the prime minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb region - where the utility is located - said on Friday.

Zeljka Cvijanovic said ERS had recorded a loss in 2017 that couldn’t be “objectively explained,” though ERS has not yet officially published its 2017 business results, SRNA news agency reported. A meeting of ERS’s supervisory board is underway.

Local media have reported the state-run utility suffered a loss of 47.8 million Bosnian marka ($30.3 million) due to suspicious power sale and purchase agreements, but no official was immediately available for comment.

In 2016, ERS posted a profit of 5.2 million marka.

A long drought and soaring temperatures lowered water levels across the Western Balkans last year, hitting hydro-power output and driving consumption and spot power prices sharply higher.

Bosnia’s biggest power utility EPBiH’s said last week its 2017 net profit tumbled to 620,382 marka from nearly 13 million marka in 2016, as drought curbed its hydro generation and forced it turn to costly imports.

ERS operates two coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 600 megawatts (MW) and three big and several small hydro power plants with a total capacity of 617 MW.

Bosnia, normally the region’s only net power exporter, more than doubled power imports to 317 million marka last year to make up for the hydro-power shortfall, according to data from the state statistics agency. (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Mark Potter)