Bosnia hydropower project draws interest from 19 firms

SARAJEVO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Nineteen international firms have expressed interest in taking part in the construction and financing of the 160-megawatt (MW) Dabar hydropower plant in southeastern Bosnia, the country’s hydropower producer HET said on Wednesday.

They include General Electric, Strabag, Turkish Enka, as well as seven Chinese firms such as Dongfang Electric Corp and Norinco International Cooperation, HET’s production manager Ilija Tamindzija told Reuters.

The Dabar plant on the Trebisnjica river will be part of a planned 250-MW hydropower complex, Gornji Horizonti, which is designed also to incorporate two smaller hydropower plants, Nevesinje and Bileca.

The cost of building the Dabar plant is estimated at 200 million euros ($234 million).

Tamindzija said interested partners would soon be invited to submit formal bids for the plant, which will produce 251 gigawatt hours of electricity a year.

Partners should finance at least 85 percent of the project’s value, and their investment would be repaid in electricity or cash. The rest would be financed by HET.

HET is a subsidiary of Bosnia’s second-largest power utility, Elektroprivreda RS, which operates two coal-fired plants with a combined capacity of 600 MW plus three big and several small hydro plants with total capacity of 617 MW.

Unlike its Balkan neighbours, which rely on imports to cover much of their energy needs, Bosnia is able to export power thanks partly to its hydro capacity, which provides 40 percent of its electricity. The rest comes from coal-fired plants. ($1 = 0.8557 euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Dale Hudson)