June 21, 2024
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Montenegro has the right to a share of hydro energy from Bileć Lake

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Montenegro has the right to part of the electricity from the hydroelectric power plant system on Trebišnjica, even though it did not participate in their construction, because part of Bileć Lake and its catchment is located on its territory, according to hydrologist Slavko Hrvačević in a statement to “Vijesti”.

From 1965 to 1981, four hydropower plants were built that used water from Trebišnjica downstream of Lake Bileć. Montenegro did not participate in the decision on their construction, as well as in the financing, and occasionally the issue of compensation is brought up, such as the recent visit of the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik.

Since the Congress of Berlin in 1878, part of the Trebišnjica flow was the border between Montenegro and then Austria-Hungary, and after the Second World War, the 11-kilometre part of that river was the administrative border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. With the construction of the Grančarevo dam in 1965, the Bileć Lake was formed, submerging about five square kilometres of Montenegrin territory.

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Hrvačević states that until 1981, four hydropower plants were built on the Trebišnjica hydropower system (HEP), HPP “Dubrovnik I”, in 1965, HPP “Trebinje I” in 1968, HPP “Čapljina” in 1979, and HPP “Trebinje II” in 1981. Their total installed power is 812 MW, and annually they produce an average of over 2,000 GWh or two billion kilowatt hours.

“The project of this HPP results in indisputable facts that, with the formation of the Bilećko lake reservoir, 5.08 square kilometres of the territory of Montenegro were submerged. Of the total area of Bileć Lake, which is 26.72 square kilometres, 4.82 square kilometres belong to Montenegro. The catchment area of the reservoir from the territory of Montenegro is estimated to be 37 to 45 per cent of the total catchment area of Lake Bileć. The inflow into the reservoir from the catchment area of Montenegro is estimated from 18.65% to 42.19% of the total inflow of Lake Bileć, depending on the source. The volume of the accumulation belonging to Montenegro is 23.9% of the total accumulation. This refers to the situation after the expansion of the “Grančarevo” dam in 1971 by two meters, which was also done without the consent of Montenegro”, said Hrvačević.

He states that the share of Montenegro in the hydropower potential of the Trebišnjica hydroelectric power plant is not mentioned anywhere in the existing and planned hydropower plants.

“It is important to point out that the Republic of Montenegro did not give consent for the realization of these facilities, but the approval was given by the then Federal Commission for Water Management. From 1971 to 1991, Montenegro received only a fee for the use of the waters of the Bilećko Lake hydroaccumulation based on the submerged land in the current value of only about 200,000 euros. “Montenegro has tried to realize the energy hydro potential of its waters in the Bilećko Lake hydroaccumulation as a public good on several occasions, but unfortunately it did not meet with the understanding of the BiH state authorities,” said Hrvačević.

He states that well-known experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavao Ramljak and Drago Kecman in their study from 1981 stated the division of electricity from the Trebišnjica system between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, but also that one part should have belonged to Montenegro, which did not happen.

“The distribution of Trebišnjica’s hydro potential was made based on the construction of the first phase of the system (HE “Trebinje 1” and HE “Dubrovnik”), 22% of SR Croatia, and 78% of SR BiH, while the production of the second phase of the Trebišnjica hydro system (RHE “Čapljina”), as and other facilities belongs to BiH in its entirety. A smaller part of the first phase of Trebišnjica, according to the criteria, would belong to the Slovak Republic of Montenegro as a resource, considering the submerged areas”, Ramljak and Kecman stated in the study.

Hrvačević also says that in other studies, it was stated that Montenegro should receive part of the produced electricity. Thus, according to the study of “Elektroprojekt Ljubljana” from 1973, Montenegro would have 147 GWh in HPP “Trebinje 1”, and 123 GWh in HPP “Dubrovnik” for an average production year.

“Energoprojekt Belgrade, in 2000, carried out a “Study on the distribution of the potential of HPP ‘Trebinje 1’, between Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska”, where 83.36 GWh or 17.69 percent of production from Montenegro belongs to 24% of the annual accumulation HPP “Trebinje 1”. Also, for the needs of the Spatial Plan of Montenegro, in 2005, the Government and the University of Montenegro conducted a gine study (sub-sector study), according to which Montenegro’s share in the production of HPP “Dubrovnik 1” is 375.4 GWh, and the share in the production of HPP “Trebinje 1″ of 113 GWh”, states Hrvačević.

“In addition to the above-mentioned institutions, numerous other institutions dealt with the issue in question. The quantifications of expert processors are inconsistent and ranged from 11% to 27%, which, in any case, is a huge amount of water, that is, produced electricity”, said Hrvačević.

Seven main facts that are in favour of Montenegro

Hrvačević states that the future resolution of this issue requires a correct approach and a fair distribution of the potential, which the neighbours have been using for decades without compensation.

He believes that any expert processor, joint commission, International Court of Justice or selected arbitration would allocate a part of the produced electricity to Montenegro in a fair procedure.

He cites seven main facts that favour Montenegro in resolving this dispute:

Montenegro, as a coastal (border) state, has never given written consent to submerge its territory with the waters of the Bilećko Lake hydro accumulation facility;

That the representative of Montenegro in the Commission for the acceptance of the hydropower system of HPP “Trebišnjica” reserved the right of his country to subsequently submit a request for the protection of its interests;

That the state of Montenegro, as the holder of the corresponding part of the water of the Bilećko Lake hydro accumulation, as a public good, has not exercised its corresponding rights for downstream power plants for 57 years;

The Bilećko Lake hydro accumulation and all four downstream power plants are part of the unique energy valorization project of the waters of the international Trebišnjica river, which was implemented within the SFRY as a joint state of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia;

All the basic production performances of the four downstream power plants provide water from the Bilećko Lake hydro accumulation;

Because the production in HPP “Dubrovnik” for a longer period was shared between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the ratio of 22%:78% according to the participation in the construction, later the ratio would be equal (50%: 50%), which is another in a series of arguments on the side of Montenegro;

17-27 years ago, in the peaceful use of the water of the Bilećko Lake hydroaccumulation by the downstream power plants, the usual concession terms in hydropower expired.

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