Private Investor to Salvage Bulgaria's Flopped Nuclear Project

Energy | June 4, 2012, Monday // 10:09|  views

A file picture dated September, 2008, showing workers during the construction of the first 1 000 MW unit of the second nuclear plant of Belene, Bulgaria. Photo by EPA/BGNES

A private investor could possibly purchase by the end of 2012 the abandoned project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, in the Bulgarian Danube town of Belene, and pay the looming compensation fees.

The statement was made by the Chairman of the Bulgarian Atomic Forum BULATOM, Bogomil Manchev.

"The purchase of the project by a foreign investor will resolve the problem with Russian claims for compensations," Manchev is quoted saying. He is also the CEO and main shareholder in the consulting and engineering company "Risk Engineering," which was the key consultant in the project to build the second NPP.

The businessman is convinced that Belene has a trade value and can be launched immediately since all needed permits have been issued already.

"The investor which has shown interest has checked the project and sees is as feasible. This company can pay for it since the State does not have the means and the option to participate in it. This is not a hypothesis, but something real, because there is a demonstrated real interest. For the time being, however, I will not stir any more noise; it is not prudent to do so," Manchev has explained.

The said investor will have to sign a contract with Bulgaria's National Electric Company, NEK, as the project's owner, and with Russia's "Atomstroyexport," which has the rights on the used technology. When and if the project turns private, the investor will pay all financial sanctions, otherwise the Bulgarian State will be sentenced to do so.

According to Manchev, the Cabinet giving up on "Belene, does not mean that the NPP should not and cannot be built as a private project.

After almost three years of balking at it, the Cabinet of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, abandoned the NPP project in March 2012. The plant was supposed to be built by the Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom.

The construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant would have cost EUR 10.35 B in the best case scenario, according to the estimates of Bulgarian government's consultant for the project, the HSBC bank.

The 2006 contract that Bulgaria's Socialist-led Three-Party Coalition Cabinet signed with Atomstroyexport for the construction of the Belene NPP was for EUR 3.997 B. Subsequently, however, it became clear that the final price would be higher, which led to years of haggling and seeking of "strategic investors" by the Bulgarian government of Borisov.

At one point Rosatom put the price of the construction of the 2000 MW plant at EUR 6.3 B, while Bulgaria insisted on EUR 5 B. The Borisov Cabinet terminated the project regardless of the Russian compensation claims, arguing that it was "economically unfeasible" for Bulgaria.

Bulgaria's government also recently decided to start the construction of a new reactor in Kozloduy after it gave up on the construction of Belene. Thus, the Bulgarian government decided to install in Kozloduy the 1000 MW reactor that the Russian state company Atomstroyexport already produced for the Belene NPP.

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Tags: sanctions, private investor, Bogomil Manchev, Risk Engineering, Belene, GERB, NEK, National Electric Company, Atomstroyexport, project company, Delyan Dobrev, Valentin Nikolov, nuclear reactor, Economy and Energy Minister, nuclear reactor, NPP, Belene, compensations


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