PRISTINA (Serbia and Montenegro), September 19 (SeeNews) - Six foreign companies have shown interest so far in investing in the planned upgrade of a 800-MW coal-fired power plant in the U.N.-run southern Serbian province of Kosovo, a government official said on Monday.
"A U.S.-based company, a Bulgarian one, one from Russia, an American-Italian consortium, the Czech electricity producer CEZ and [UK-based] Alferon have shown interest in Kosovo A," the Kosovo Deputy Minister of Energy and Mining, Agron Dida, told SeeNews.
He added the ministry planned to open negotiations with potential investors by the end of the month.
Kosovo has yet to decide whether it will offer a concession on the power plant or sell it, the spokesman of the Kosovo's power utility KEK, Paloke Berisha, said.
Earlier this year, Alferon was selected a provisional winner in a tender for the sale of the ferro-nickel plant Ferronikeli by the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA), the body charged with the restructuring of state-owned companies in the province. KTA is making now the background checks of Alferon's 33 million euro ($40.03 million) offer.
"Alferon is ready to make the investment, because Kosovo A supplies the energy needed for Ferronikeli's operations," Dida said.
Rusal, a Russian aluminium group, is also interested in investing in the power plant, Berisha said. Rusal bought Montenegro's sole aluminium smelter, Kombinat Aluminijuma Podgorica (KAP), for 145.5 million euro in cash and investments in July.
Kosovo's 10-year energy strategy, approved in August, callls for the province to upgrade three of the five power-generating units at Kosovo A. The investments needed for the revamping each of the three 200-MW units are estimated at 56 million euro, Dida said.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999 when a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to withdraw its forces from Kosovo and halt repression of the ethnic Albanian majority seeking independence for the province. The unresolved political status of Kosovo is considered a major obstacle to the province's plans to attract foreign investors.