Bosnia 450 MW coal-fired project draws 12 bids

* EPBiH to shortlist bidders for second round in 10 days

* One of largest energy projects in Bosnia

* EPBiH picks 5 firms for 2013 power export of 1,500 GWh

SARAJEVO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Bosnian utility EPBiH has received non-binding bids from 12 international firms and consortia to help build a 450 megawatt coal-fired unit at its Tuzla power plant, it said on Thursday.

The construction cost is seen at around 1.5 billion Bosnian marka ($993 million), EPBiH general manager Elvedin Grabovica told a news conference.

The project will be one of the largest investments in the Balkan country's ageing energy infrastructure, where ageing coal-fired plants face rising consumption.

Five bidders came from China: China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), Harbin Electric International , Sepco Electric Power Construction Corp., and two consortia led by China Gezhouba Group Corp and Sepco III Electric Power Construction Corporation.

Europe's biggest engineering group Siemens , Japan's Hitachi , a consortium led by Toshiba and MVM OVIT National Power Line Company, part of state-held Hungarian power group MVM, were also among the preliminary bidders, he said.

Others interested in partnering with the utility to build the new unit were privately owned companies from Spain, Germany and Turkey, EPBiH's Grabovica said.

"EPBiH will evaluate the bids in 10 days and shortlist the candidates to enter the second round," he added.

The Tuzla plant in northern Bosnia currently produces about 3,100 GWh of power per year at six units.

EPBiH operates two coal-fired plants and three hydro-power plants with a combined capacity of 1,165 MW and 517 MW, respectively.

Unlike other countries in the Western Balkans that rely on imports to cover much of their consumption, Bosnia is a net power exporter.

EPBiH has also picked five companies to buy its 2013 power surplus of 1,500 GWh at an average price of 57 euro per MWh, Grabovica said.

These include Swiss energy traders Alpiq and Croatia's state-run power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) and local units of Swiss energy trader Repower, European wholesale electricity trader Ezpada and Slovenia's GEN-I.

"We are more than pleased with the price which is 1.5 percent above the average export price reached for this year," Grabovica said.

(Reporting By Maja Zuvela; Editing by Michael Kahn and Jason Neely)

(( 33 295 485)(Reuters Messaging: