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Bosnia utility EPBiH to proceed with China-backed coal-fired plant deal

SARAJEVO: Bosnian utility EPBiH wants to continue talks with Chinese partners on expanding its Tuzla coal-fired power plant after the project ran into problems with suppliers of key equipment, the company and the regional energy minister said on Wednesday.

EPBiH's deal with China Yand Guandong Electric Power Design to build a 450 megawatt (MW) unit in Tuzla at a cost of 1.8 billion Bosnian marka (US$1 billion) was delayed after General Electric withdrew from the project last year.

Alternative subcontractors offered by the Chinese partners were rejected by EPBiH, but it then issued a tender last week looking for consultants to help it resume talks on the matter with the Chinese companies.

"In order to bring the final decision on whether to resume or break the contract on the ... construction of the Bloc 7, EPBiH representatives and a group of international experts will ... review a new model proposed by the Chinese partners," EPBiH said in a statement to Reuters.

The company said the new unit, which would replace three aging units at the 715 MW Tuzla plant, was important for the country's energy sector and its transition towards green energy.

"The project was signed, it is ongoing, it has not been stopped," Nermin Dzindic, the energy and industry minister of Bosnia's autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, told Reuters.

Once the international and EPBiH energy experts collect comprehensive information about new subcontractors and the price and quality of the equipment, the regional parliament will make the final decision on the project, Dzindic said.

The Energy Community, the European Union's energy watchdog, said last month that the Federation government's guarantee for the 1.2 billion Bosnian marka Chinese loan for the project constituted state aid and was regarded as illegal.

EPBiH officials have said an arbitration court will have the final saying on the matter.

Source: Reuters

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