CONSTRUCTION OF POWER-LINE TO MACEDONIA DELAYED
According to the initial schedule, the construction of the intersystem 400-kilovolt power line Chervena Mogila - Shti, between Bulgaria and Macedonia, should had started in the beginning of January, but the BANKER weekly learned it was postponed for April. The reason is the delay of tender dossiers for the choice of a contractor on the part of the consulting company - the Swiss Colenco. It has not been specified yet if a single company will be contracted to build the power-line in both countries or one firm will be picked up to implement the project in each of the countries. After the dossiers are prepared it will also become clear if international companies will be admitted to take part in the procedure. In any case, the delay would not affect Bulgaria so much as we do not face problems with guaranteeing the country's energy balance. Back in November 2003 the National Electricity Company (NEC) and Macedonia's ECM (the country's electricity company) signed agreements for joint construction of an intersystem power-line. Its length should be 150 km, of which 80 km on Bulgaria's territory. The project will be financed by a EUR40.5MN loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), repayable in 15 years. The credit was guaranteed by the Government in Skopje and the NEC will pay the money, invested in Bulgaria by supply of electricity to that country. The power-line will be the first 400-kilovolt connection between the two energy systems. It is much more important to Macedonia as the electricity it buys from Bulgaria now bypasses through Greece or Serbia, which additionally increases its price. The power-line is a stage of the strategy of the Balkan countries' system operators for strengthening the national electricity networks, which will consequently facilitate the establishment of a regional power market. The contract for its setting-up had to be signed by the end of 2004, but it was postponed for the beginning of the new year. The project envisions the establishment of three institutions: a council of ministers, an expert panel at a high level, and a council of the regulatory bodies. The first institution will be preparing the political grounds for cooperation and will assign individual tasks to the other two. The experts will be responsible for the relations with international financial organisations and will report for the fulfilment of political tasks. The council of regulatory bodies will include a representative of each country and a member of the European Commission.