Brussels Denies Clearing Bulgaria Belene N-Plant Project

Business | November 7, 2007, Wednesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Brussels Denies Clearing Bulgaria Belene N-Plant Project The European Commission has not given its greenlight for Bulgaria to build a nuclear power plant at Belene. Photo by Parsons E&C Bulgaria

The European Commission has not given its greenlight for Bulgaria to build a nuclear power plant at Belene, a spokesman of EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said on Wednesday.

The spokesman reacted to a statement of Bulgaria's power grid operator NEK, which claimed the European Commission's directorate-general for energy and transport has approved its contract with Russia's Atomstroyexport.

"Since the deal was signed last year, just a month before Bulgaria joined the EU in January, it needed the express approval of the European executive to go through," said NEK statement, released on Tuesday.

Talking to journalists in Brussels Ferran Tarradellas stressed that the process of approval takes time, but refused to say when a final decision can be expected.

NEK will own 51% of the company that will build and operate the plant, with the remaining 49% put for sale in a tender that has Czech CEZ, German E.ON and RWE, Belgian Electrabel and Italy's Enel all vying for it.

After the European Commission gives its approval, Bulgaria can apply for a government-underwritten EUR 300 M loan from the EU's Euratom agency.

It plans to borrow a similar amount from the European Investment Bank (EIB), as well, and government officials have earlier claimed that they have already secured EUR 250 M in funding for the plant from BNP Paribas.

The total construction costs for the plant, which will feature two 1000 MW third-generation Russian reactors built by Atomstroyexport, are estimated at EUR 4 B.

Bulgaria decided to unfreeze its plans to build the plant in 2004, having mothballed them a decade and a half earlier, to compensate for shutting down four older Soviet reactors at its Kozloduy facility at the request of the EU.
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