Oil Report

Bosnia utility EPRS posts record '09 output, profit

* EPRS posts record output, sales and profit in 2009

* 2010 output, profit down due to a major plant’s overhaul

BANJA LUKA/TREBINJE, Bosnia, March 18 (Reuters) - Bosnia's second-largest utility, Elektroprivreda RS (EPRS) ERST.BJ will see its output and profits fall in 2010 after posting record profit and sales in 2009, officials said on Thursday.

Output at the utility, based in the southern town of Trebinje rose 10.65 percent in 2009 to 5,629 GWh from the previous year, said Slobodan Puhalac, energy minister of Bosnia’s Serb Republic.

The 2009 “output was accomplished thanks to exceptional availability of production plants and a favourable hydrological situation,” Puhalac told Reuters.

He said the company’s profit in 2009 increased by nearly 500 percent to around 30 million Bosnian marka ($21 million) from 6.45 million marka in 2008, according to preliminary results.

“The trend of reduced distribution losses that we have seen over the past three years has influenced the company’s business results despite an increase in distribution consumption from 2008,” Puhalac said.

Despite record results in 2009, EPRS expects to see reduced output and smaller profits this year because of a three-month modernisation of a block in its Ugljevik thermal power plant, the company said separately on Thursday.

“In 2010, EPRS plans revenues of 597.3 million marka and profit of 2.6 million marka,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

The company added it planned to invest 283.2 million marka this year mainly to upgrade facilities in Ugljevik and Trebinje.

The Serb Republic, one of Bosnia’s two postwar autonomous regions where the Ugljevik plant is located, in November signed a deal with Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on a 93 million euro ($127 million) loan to upgrade Ugljevik.

Last year, Ugljevik, based in the north of Bosnia, had an output of 1,559 GWh of electricity and 1.3 million tonnes of coal.

EPRS, which is based in the Serb Republic and provides power to Serb-dominated parts of Bosnia and also exports some electricity, plans to produce 15,773 GWh of electricity in the 2010 to 2013 period.

Besides EPRS, Sarajevo-based Elektroprivreda BiH and Mostar-based EPHZBH power companies operate in Bosnia’s other autonomous region, the Muslim-Croat federation.

Around 60 percent of Bosnia’s power is generated in thermal-power plants and the remainder in hydro-power plants.

This makes Bosnia one of the few countries in the region now capable of exporting electricity. Its neighbours rely on imports to cover most of their consumption. (Writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Adam Tanner and Anthony Barker)