Belgrade/Banja Luka/Sarajevo, 16 December 2014: As the third annual summit of Chinese and Central and Eastern European leaders gets underway today in Belgrade, problems are mounting for the lignite projects planned in the Balkan region. Today alone, an official complaint has been submitted to the Energy Community Secretariat on the planned 600 MW Ugljevik III lignite power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a new analysis has been published showing that the planned 450 MW Tuzla 7 lignite plant – also in Bosnia and Herzegovina – is likely to be economically unviable.
In the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately 150 km east of Banja Luka, Comsar Energy Republika Srpska (CERS) is planning to build the 2x300 MW Ugljevik 3 lignite fired power plant. This complaint outlines aspects of the Energy Community law that the plant would breach if constructed.
The public company Elektroprivreda BiH is developing a project for the construction of unit 7 at the Tuzla lignite-fired power plant. The key financial indicators presented in JP Elektroprivrede BiH's document have been derived in an unclear manner, but even with these figures it is clear that the project is poorly grounded. This creates potential threats to Bosnia and Herzegovina's public budget since the project will likely receive state support.
The letters were sent shortly before the EBRD's board of directors are to approve a loan for the Naftogaz Emergency Pipeline Upgrade and Modernisation project. Since the project has not yet passed through all environmental and social procedures, Bankwatch asked the EBRD's president and its board in separate letters to postpone the board decision.
Skopje/ Strasbourg – The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation for signatory countries, announced today (pdf) that it will open a case file to address the complaint made by Eko-svest about the planned hydropower plants in Mavrovo national park.
The total costs of the Boskov Most hydropower plant project in Macedonia will possibly cost more than twice the projected EUR 84 million, considering that many aspects have so far not been studied or remain unresolved.
Despite the Russian invasion in Ukraine leading to EU and US sanctions against Moscow and major Russian energy companies, public banks supported by EU countries are just gearing up to offer a one billion dollar loan to Russian company Lukoil for gas extraction in Azerbaijan.
An unprecedented ruling and serious tough talking emanated from the European Ombudsman at the end of October following an investigation into the EIB’s involvement with a bridge construction project in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Describing the approach taken by the EIB in the case as “wholly unacceptable”, the Ombudsman's conclusion pulled no punches in asserting that the bank's “maladministration risks putting into question the European Union’s commitment to strengthening the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
In October this year, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved an up to EUR 50 million loan to a Belarusian subsidiary of the Austrian company Kronospan for the expansion of a particleboard facility at Smorgon in the Grodno region of Belarus. Belarus will provide a guaranteed return on investment for both Kronospan and the EBRD. With the country’s rich wood resources, generous state tax incentives, weak legal environment, toothless trade unions, cheap labour and a generally stifled civil society, the EBRD and its client are not likely to run into the same environmental and legal difficulties experienced by Kronospan in other eastern European countries.