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Austria to Back Serbian Energy Projects Eyed by Andritz, Strabag

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Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Austria and Serbia agreed to cooperate on hydro power projects in the Balkan country, which may ensure new work for Austrian contractors such as Andritz AG and Strabag SE.

The projects may include building a 680 megawatt pumped-storage Bistrica plant in southwestern Serbia at an estimated cost of at least 600 million euros ($822 million) and an upgrade of the existing, 92-megawatt Zvornik hydro facility on the Drina River, said Serbia’s Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjic.

“Austrians have already invested a lot in our energy potentials and there are new projects coming,” Mrkonjic said as he signed a cooperation agreement with Austria’s Assistant Minister for Traffic, Innovation and Technology Andreas Reichhardt in Belgrade today. Representatives of Andritz Hydro and Strabag also attended.

The Bistrica project will top the agenda of a joint, nine-member Austrian-Serbian cooperation commission that the respective ministries formed today.

Andritz has done an “excellent job” overhauling and upgrading Serbia’s Bajina Basta plant on the Drina River, said Dragomir Markovic, the general manager of Serbia’s power monopoly Elektroprivreda Srbije.

“We would like that further upgrades are carried out by the same partner,” he said, adding that a final decision will be made in tenders.

Serbia expects financial support from Austria for the projects, at least for Bistrica, which may narrow the choice of contractors to Austrian firms since “those who provide money will ask that jobs go to their companies,” Mrkonjic said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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