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© ICIS HEREN - Bulgaria pulls out of the 2GW Belene nuclear power project
2012-03-30

Bulgaria will not build the 2GW Belene nuclear electricity project, the government said in a statement on Wednesday (28th March).
"In the current financial conditions and economic recession, we have made an effort to restructure the [Belene] project by diversifying it through a western investor in order to protect Bulgaria’s national interests. However, analyses show that construction of a seventh unit at Kozlouduy NPP is far more realistic," the statement said.
One Bulgarian power trader thinks the decision is a bad one. "It might put Bulgaria in a position where it has to import electricity in the future, as Kozloduy’s old reactors will reach [the end of] their life span soon."
There is a possibility that a gas-fired power plant will be built in Belene’s place, Bulgaria’s financial ministry said on Wednesday (28th March), quoting a statement from deputy finance minister Vladislav Goranov.

Kozloduy option
The energy ministry will now submit a proposal for the construction of a new unit at the 2GW Kozloduy nuclear power plant.
Kozloduy offers an already built infrastructure and a new project would attract more strategic investors, the government said. Furthermore, a 1GW unit would be better financially and it would cover Bulgaria’s electricity needs completely, it added.

Belene saga
Two weeks ago Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov hinted that it was likely Belene would not be constructed. He said that the government would not back the project without a foreign investor. However, at the time Borisov was waiting for the final financial report from the project’s consultant HSBC, which would determine if Belene was financially feasible (see EDEM 16 March 2012).
In early 2012 the former energy minister Traycho Traykov said that it was more logical and cheaper to build a new block at an already-existing platform such as Kozloduy than to start a brand new project such as Belene (see EDEM 5 January 2012).
Back in October 2011 state-owned National Electricity Company and Belene’s contractor, Russian company Atomstroyexport, decided to postpone the decision on Belene until the end of March 2012 to find out all financial aspects of the deal and to see the results of EU’s stress tests of nuclear plants (see EDEM 3 October 2012).
During the postponement Rosatom, which is Atomstroyexport is part of, offered to finance the Belene project on its own in return for a 49% stake (see EDEM 7 December 2011).
Serbia was also quoted as a potential investor in the project (see EDEM 2 February 2012).
(THE ICIS HEREN REPORTS - EDEM 16062 / 28 March 2012)


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