Croatia to choose partner for Plomin plant in Q1 '13

ZAGREB, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Croatia will choose by next April its strategic partner in the construction of a 500-megawatt thermal power plant in the northern Adriatic, Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Cacic said on Wednesday.

Last month state power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) shortlisted four bidders to partner it in the construction of a coal-fired plant in Plomin in the northern Adriatic Istrian peninsula.

The bidders were Italy's Edison, KOSEP from South Korea, Marubeni from Japan and Poland's POL-MOT. Seven companies had expressed interest in a preliminary stage.

"The (investment) cycle is starting with Plomin, which is worth around one billion euros with all accompanying facilities. We'll have the winning bidder by the end of next March," Cacic said.

The investment is part of a planned energy investment drive worth 10-15 billion euros by 2020, with most funds seen coming from foreign investors. Croatia wants to complete the plant by 2017.

The goal is to reduce the country's strong dependence on energy imports and kickstart the local economy after four years of recession. Croatia is scheduled to join the European Union next July.

HEP is the biggest local investor in the energy investment cycle and it plans to issue an international bond worth up to 500 million euros this month to finance the new projects and the reconstruction of its transmission network . ($1 = 0.7754 euros)

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Alison Birrane)

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