Westinghouse, Gov't to Sign Final Deal on Unit 7 Next Year - CEO
US-based company Westinghouse sees big opportunities in Bulgaria, but the government's resignation will delay ongoing projects, CEO Danny Roderick said.
Roderick also told Bulgarian daily Trud the final deal on Unit 7 would be sealed next year.
His remarks, quoted by a number of media outlets, came as he was on a visit to Bulgaria to meet Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and other officials from the government in resignation.
During their meeting, Oresharski restated Bulgaria's commitment to the project.
Oresharski's government stepped down last week without adopting a final decision to sign a deal with Westinghouse on the unit, leaving the move into the hands of the next elected government due to take over after the vote in October.
In an interview with the Bulgarian National Television, Roderick revealed the prospect of building a second nuclear reactor at the Kozloduy NPP, apart from the Unit 7 of which Westinghouse will be in charge, is currently being considered.
Roderick confirmed that the price tag of Kozloduy NPP's Unit 7 would be slightly over USD 5 B and assured that was the most "competitive" price Westinghouse had offered in contracts so far.
He added the project had managed to raise some financing, including "by a US bank".
The CEO stressed the construction of Unit 7 would create new jobs for the local inhabitants, but also admitted it would suffer delays, as the political environment (early elections included) were changing initial plans to strike an agreement with Sofia at the earliest possible.
Commenting on criticism that the project has drawn over the past months, he warned against drawing parallels between the unit and the Belene NPP project.
"Belene [NPP] was an agreement between states, we at Westinghouse are carrying out things in stages, we do a certain task, then we explain to our customers what we have found," Roderick was quoted by Trud as saying. The chief executive also underscored Unit 7's construction would be blueprinted and carried out in a transparent way, hinting that was the case with Belene.
Belene NPP, also a controversially perceived nuclear project, was frozen in 2010 by GERB's minority government headed by Boyko Borisov, who cited the "unclear timetable" and lack of certainty in financial terms as reasons for the move. A referendum held on the issue failed to revive the plant and intentions to build it were finally abandoned, despite ruling socialists' declarations they might move to renew the venture.
It is expected that Unit 7 could be constructed in five years and operational by 2022-2024. Prior to that it will take two years to complete license procedures.
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