Bulgaria Ministers Make Up, Tie Up N-Plant with Output Price
Bulgaria's government will make up its mind about the future of its second nuclear power plant project in Belene, depending on how profitable the export price of its output will be, the government said on Sunday.
The statement, voiced by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov at the opening of the first round of the World Motocross Championship in the town of Sevlievo, was surprisingly shared by both Energy Minister Traicho Traikov and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov in an apparent gesture of reconciliation after the atomic scandal that shattered the cabinet a few days ago.
The price of electricity to be produced by the two 1,000 megawatt reactors in Belene nuclear power plant after they go online remains the biggest question mark about the project, triggering rumours of kickbacks to officials, shady contracts and well-connected contractors.
The Bulgarian authorities and the Russian contractor have made controversial statements, while Energy Minister Traikov admitted recently that the price of Belene electricity will be much higher than that produced in Kozloduy.
The Russian contractor Atomstroyexport won the tender for Belene with an offer for 3.5-3.7 eurocents per kilowatt. However, the price is expected to jump to over BGN 100 per MWh, about three times as high as the rate of the electricity generated by the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (BGN 45 per MWh).
In spite of Japan's crisis, the EU's warning and the promise to sever ties with Russia, Bulgaria has given strong indications it will bow to Moscow's nuclear demands.
The head of the National Electric Company NEK Krasimir Parvanov signed on Tuesday an agreement with Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport that potentially threatens Bulgaria's national interests by obliging the Bulgarian government to reach a final agreement with the Russians on Belene by June 1, 2001.
The sneaky move was slammed by the Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov and led to Parvanov's dismissal, which was eventually overturned by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Borisov harshly criticized the minister's hasty and emotional reaction and threatened him with being kicked out of office.
It is still an open question whether the signed document is legally binding.
On Sunday the prime minister explained the fiasco with "miscommunication inside the government" and stressed Minister Traikov is the one to be held responsible for the project.
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