Bulgaria Unaware of Russia's Plans for Costlier Penalty over Belene
Bulgaria has not been officially notified of Russia's plans to more than double its EUR 58 M claim against Bulgarian state utility NEK, which it filed at an arbitration court in Paris in July.
"Talking rubbish about a project is one of the many ways, in which you can make it collapse. I have always said that the relations between two companies, which implement a complicated project should be based on hard work and the use of official channels for carrying out the project," Energy Minister Traicho Traikov told reporters on Thursday.
"In this case we have not been officially notified of such a decision. When this happens, I will leave the issue in the hands of the lawyers," he added.
The minister's statement came after Russia's nuclear company has warned it may double its EUR 58 M claim against Bulgarian state utility NEK, which it filed in July over delayed payments on Belene nuclear project.
"NEK already owes us more than EUR 130 M for activities on two nuclear reactors that Atomstroyexport has completed, but we are yet to decide whether to increase the claim in court," the Russian company president Alexander Glukhov announced at the forum Atomex Europe 2011 in Prague.
Bulgaria's state-run power grid operator tabled at the beginning of October a lawsuit in Geneva against Russia's state nuclear company Atomstroyexport over delayed payments for purchases of old equipment for the plant, worth about EUR 300 M.
The government in Sofia however was quick to point out that this is not a counter-claim to Moscow's lawsuit at the arbitration court in Paris.
"The action was described as a "counter claim" just because the two sums in question are similar," a statement by the Economy and Energy Ministry said.
Meanwhile the two countries agreed to extend the negotiations over Belene nuclear project amidst continuing haggling over its price and feasibility.
Their contract for the construction of two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors at Belene has been extended by the end of March 2012
The new, fourteenth, annex between the two sides will allow them to take into account the results from the stress tests and the expected developments on the electricity market.
Bulgaria and Russia are unable to agree on the major bone of contention - the price for the construction of the 2000-MW Belene NPP.
Russia says the project construction price should be EUR 6.3 B. The Borisov government wants to set the price at as little as EUR 5 B.
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, a subsidiary of Rosatom, 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 was de facto frozen in the fall of 2009 when the previously selected strategic investor, the German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out.
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