* Bosnia region energy plans halt until new cabinet is formed
* Move could put in jeopardy a planned $1.1 bln Apiq bid
* Top utility says parliament's decision questionable
* Political bickering may delay a formation of new cabinet
By Maja Zuvela
SARAJEVO, Oct 21 A regional Bosnian parliament
decision to halt strategic power sector investments until a new
cabinet is formed may hold up investment by Swiss energy firm
Alpiq (ALPH.S) in a Bosnian coal-fired plant.
Alpiq has bid to invest $1.1 billion to construct a new
450-megawatt unit in the northern coal-fired plant Tuzla needed
to help meet future demand.
The outgoing parliament of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation
decided late on Thursday to halt all investments by two regional
power companies until a new government is formed following
elections earlier this month.
But the voting results in Bosnia, which is made up of the
Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, point to
continued political deadlock that could delay the formation of a
Some deputies have voiced concern about transparency of
projects planned by the Sarajevo-based Elektroprivreda BiH
(EPBiH) and Mostar-based Elekroprivreda HZHB (EPHZHB).
"In the past, the parliament has had bad experience with
decisions by lame-duck governments," said Slavisa Sucur of the
largest opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), which has
emerged as the strongest party in the federation after the vote.
The investment into the Tuzla plant is part of a 10-billion
Bosnian marka ($7.1 billion) government investment plan into the
power sector by 2018, which also includes construction of new
and overhauls of existing power plants with a combined capacity
of 2,791 MW.
"The parliament move is questionable," said EPBiH General
Manager Amer Jerlagic. "The company carries out activities that
are part of an energy sector strategy approved by this same
parliament few months ago."
Jerlagic said that EPBiH should in two days complete the
evaluation of Alpiq's bid but that any future moves, such as
negotiations with the bidder, will depend on the government,
which may further delay and put the project in jeopardy.
Parliament deputies have said that all public procurement
procedures relating to investments that exceed one third of the
majority state-owned utilities' book value should be halted.
Jerlagic said he expected the cabinet to decide soon on the
issue but added that some procedures, such as power export
deals, should go ahead as planned.
The new plants and upgrades of existing ones aim to avert
power shortages stemming from overhauls of major power plants
and would provide for energy independence in a country that is
the sole electricity exporter in the emerging Balkans.
($1=1.41 Bosnian marka)
(Editing by Adam Tanner)