Russia's Increased Belene Claim 'Treacherous Attack', Bulgarian PM Says

Energy | September 13, 2012, Thursday // 08:38|  views

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has condemned Russia's increased claim against his country over the cancelation of the Belene NPP project, calling it a "treacherous attack," according to local media.

On Tuesday, Rosatom subsidiary Atomstroyexport increased its claim to EUR 1 B. The case of Bulgaria having to reimburse Atomstroyexport for scrapping plans to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene is tried by the International Court of Arbitration in Paris.

Borisov reacted angrily to Atomstroyexport's surprising move, saying "it went too far," the Standart daily reports, citing its government sources.

The PM ordered Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev to call Rosatom head Sergey Kiriyenko and discuss the matter, the paper says.

Bulgarian officials already reacted strongly to Atomstroyexport's drastically increased claim, with both Dobrev and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov criticizing the move and declaring that Russia would stand no chance in court.

On Tuesday, Atomstroyexport announced that it is upping the claim over the early termination of the project by the Bulgarian government and the expired agreement from November 2006, while the Bulgarian National Electric Company (NEK) continues to refuse to compensate the company for the inflicted losses.

The claimed amount includes all work already completed for the project, the cost of the equipment and the losses. Atomstroyexport further note that several Russian plants have been involved in the long process of making this equipment – usually taking anywhere between 6 months and 3 years.

The noted Russian subcontractors have finished the casing of the reactor and the devices inside it; they conducted tests of the casing; completed the reservoirs of the emergency cooling system, the pressure compensating devices, the steam generators and the cofferdams for the staff. All of the above is stored in warehouses because NEK refuses to accept it.

The claim further notes that Atomstroyexport paid for the orders not only with the money received by NEK, but by loans it had taken. In addition, on the request of the Bulgarian Agency for Nuclear Regulation in the aftermath of damage at Japan's Fukushima NPP after the March 2011 devastating earthquake there, the Russian company has prepared stress tests in compliance with criteria of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. The tests have been examined by IAEA experts and received positive safety assessments.

In 2008 – 2010, the Russian company has conducted all necessary engineering and geological studies and excavations at the NPP site and built the needed infrastructure in order to start construction works.

After the construction of the 2000 MW plant by Atomexportstroy had been delayed with annexes 15 times, at the end of March 2012, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his ruling centrist-right GERB formally abandoned the project, declaring it economically unfeasible.

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