November 26, 2019 / 1:23 PM / 18 days ago

Overhaul of Bosnian oil refinery to be completed in mid-2020

SARAJEVO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - An overhaul of Bosnia’s sole oil refinery Brod could be completed in mid-2020, past the previous plans, a regional energy minister said on Tuesday, dismissing speculation that the debt-laden plant might be closed down.

The refinery, majority owned by Russia’s Neftegazinkor, a unit of state-owned oil company Zarubezhneft, was shut in January after it had been hit by a blast which killed one worker and injured nine.

Petar Djokic, the energy minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, where the refinery is located, had said the operations could restart in a year.

On Tuesday, Djokic told the region’s parliament that Russian energy and prime ministers have said the Russian companies would not pull out of Bosnia but would restart production at the refinery in mid-2020.

Auditors warned the refinery, which processed 1.2 million tonnes of crude annually, may face liquidity problems after it piled up losses and its liabilities exceeded assets, but Brod has dismissed those claims.

Oil demand has since been covered through imports from Serbian oil company NIS, majority owned by Russia’s Gazprom Neft . (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and and Louise Heavens)

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