Bulgaria Pressed for Time ahead of Court Battle for Belene NPP
Lawyers of the international law firm White&Case have asked the Ministry of Economy and Energy (MEE) to take urgent steps to organize Bulgaria's defense in the arbitration case with regarding the compensation sought by Russian Atomstroyexport for the cancellation of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant project.
White&Case were hired by the previous center-right GERB government to defend Bulgaria in the arbitration case.
The legal experts warn in a letter that if Bulgaria fails to fast-track the process, it risks being sentenced to pay a penalty of BGN 1B, while the National Electric Company (NEK) may lose its assets, dnevnik.bg reports, citing a statement of center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria).
The letter also mentions repeated requests of White&Case addressed to the Economy and Energy Ministry demanding that NEK urgently hire experts and witnesses and introduce a fast-track decision-making procedure for important procedural matters related to the case.
The lawyers have a deadline by October 25 to submit the information from NEK, but Bulgaria has failed to respond to a request made at a meeting on August 9 and to a reminder letter dated August 23.
The letter of the New York-based law firm distributed by GERB is dated September 2, but the right-wing party suggests that it was registered by the MEE's registry office one day later.
GERB claims that the delay was deliberate, the aim being that Bulgaria lose the case.
The center-right party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov plans to refer the matter to the prosecuting authority.
Russia's Atomstroyexport has expressed firm belief it will pocket EUR 1 B in compensation over the cancellation of nuclear power plant Belene in Bulgaria.
In the middle of July Russia's state nuclear company Atomstroyexport took Bulgaria's NEK to an arbitration court for EUR 58 M over delayed payments for its work on two nuclear reactors.
The next day the Bulgarian company said it was ready to strike back with a EUR 61 M counter claim against Atomstroyexport over delayed payments for purchases of old equipment for the plant, worth about EUR 300 M.
Three months later, on September 11, Rosatom Corp., Russia's state-run nuclear company, increased a claim against Bulgaria's National Electricity Co. from EUR 58 M to EUR 1 B.
Atomstroyexport, a unit of Rosatom, said it had increased its claim filed with the International Court of Arbitration in Paris in 2011 to cover construction work and production costs of the two canceled nuclear reactors.
Atomstroyexport was contracted in 2005 to build the plant for an initial EUR 4 B, but the costs later rose.
After failing to agree on its cost and find Western investors however in March 2012 Bulgaria decided to abandon plans to build its second nuclear power plant.
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