Bulgarian Socialists Push for Construction of Belene N-Plant

Energy | September 24, 2013, Tuesday // 11:39|  views

Bulgaria decided to abandon plans to build its second nuclear power plant in March 2012 after failing to agree on its cost with Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, and find Western investors. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria’s ruling socialist party has once again spoken in favor of the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant project.

“The Bulgarian Socialist Party has an unanimous stance on Belene – and it is that Belene is necessary for Bulgaria,” BSP lawmaker Tasko Ermenkov told the Bulgarian National Television on Tuesday.

Bulgaria's formerly-ruling center-right GERB government scrapped the Belene project in March 2012, declaring it economically unfeasible.

The pro-Kremlin BSP then launched a petition for a referendum on the Russian-Bulgarian project. The referendum took place on January 27, 2013. As the voter turnout slightly exceeded 20%. 61% of the voters said "yes" to the construction of a new NPP; 39% cast a "no" ballot.

On February 27, 2013, Bulgaria's Parliament confirmed the country's decision to abandon the Belene NPP project.

As soon as he was sworn-in, Bulgaria's new Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, elected on the Socialist mandate, hinted that the Belene NPP project may be revived.

After it was first started in the 1980s, the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube was stopped in the early 1990s over lack of money and environmental protests.

After selecting the Russian company Atomstroyexport to build a two 1000-MW reactors at Belene and signing a deal for the construction, allegedly for the price of EUR 3.997 B, with the Russians during Putin's visit to Sofia in January 2008, in September 2008, former Prime Minister Stanishev gave a formal restart of the building of Belene. At the end of 2008, German energy giant RWE was selected as a strategic foreign investor for the plant.
The Belene NPP has been de facto frozen since the fall of 2009 when RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out. Shortly afterwards BNP Paribas SA, France's largest bank by market value, which was hired by the previous Socialist government to help fund the construction of Belene, ditched the project in February 2010.

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Tags: Belene, Plamen Oresharski, RWE, temporary, arbitration court, Arbitration, International Arbitration Court in Paris, ASE, Russia, Atomstroyexport, Rosatom, Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, GERB, BEH, NEK, HSBC, consultant, Referendum, parliament, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP


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