Bulgaria Energy Minister Vows Transparent Talks with US Tie-In Eying Belene NPP

Energy | September 30, 2012, Sunday // 13:32|  views

Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev expects to receive information about Global Power Consortium from the US Department of Energy next week. Photo by BGNES

Delyan Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, expects a response next week from the US Department of Energy on Global Power Consortium, the US tie-in interested in building the Belene NPP.

Speaking in the Black Sea city of Varna on Saturday, he explained that Global Power Consortium could prove 'not serious enough' for the 2,000 MW nuclear plant project.

He added that Bulgaria was ready to hold talks with any other potential investors who came up.

He told journalists that his first meeting with Global Power Consortium had taken place last Wednesday during the sitting of the Parliamentary Economic Committee in Parliament.

Dobrev specified that prior meetings on the matter had been held at NEK and at the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH).

Asked to confirm whether a company was being sought to evaluate the project's assets and liabilities, he said that the procedure should have been carried out in 2004.

Dobrev claimed that the evaluation had been deliberately evaded in order to make the National Electric Company (NEK) pay for Belene NPP until it was brought to its knees, which had eventually happened, forcing the state-owned firm to take huge loans.

Bulgaria's Energy Minister made clear that no major developments were expected in the next year on the arbitrage proceedings involving the EUR 1 B claim against NEK at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris.

The largely unknown US enterprise Global Power Consortium's interest in the construction of the 2000 MW Belene was made public in Sofia on Wednesday by a representative of the entity, Samuel Reddy, who said he had presented an offer to Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Delyan Dobrev.

According to Samuel Reddy, the alleged Global Power Consortium is currently negotiating with Russian state company Atomstroyexport, which was supposed to build the NPP in Belene.

Immediately after Reddy's announcement on Wednesday, Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport denied being in talks with it for taking over the abandoned project for Bulgaria's Belene NPP.

Bulgaria's government is currently tangled up in a EUR 1 B dispute with Russia over the termination of the Belene project. It is unclear how the GPC offer to "build" the NPP will affect the dispute.

In mid-July 2011, Russia's state nuclear company Atomstroyexport took Bulgaria's NEK to an arbitration court for EUR 58 M over delayed payments for its work on two nuclear reactors.

The next day the Bulgarian company said it was ready to strike back with a EUR 61 M counter claim against Atomstroyexport over delayed payments for purchases of old equipment for the plant, worth about EUR 300 M.

Three months later, on September 11, Rosatom Corp., Russia's state-run nuclear company, increased the claim against Bulgaria's NEK from EUR 58 M to EUR 1 B.

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Tags: Energy and Economy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, Belene NPP, Global Power Consortium, International Court of Arbitration in Paris, Atomstroyexport, Rosatom, investor


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