Bulgaria Looking for Investors in Nuclear Plant Belene

Business » ENERGY | August 31, 2009, Monday // 13:38| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Bulgaria Looking for Investors in Nuclear Plant Belene The previous Socialist government has estimated Belene costs at EUR 4 B but their successors from center-right GERB party say the price tag may tower to EUR 10 B. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's new center-right government said no talks have been held so far with private investors for its majority stake in the planned Belene nuclear power plant.

"We will announce our next steps on the project in September, but no talks have been held so far with potential investors," Bulgaria's new Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said on Monday.

In response to media reports about planned talks with officials from the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the minister assured that the government will contact all interested parties.

The parliamentary economic commission urged the government earlier in the month to seek a private investors for its stake. State power utility NEK has a majority stake in the plant and has contracted Russia's Atomstroyexport to build the two 1,000 megawatt reactors.

Bulgaria's previous Socialist-led government chose last year German power utility RWE to become a strategic partner in the Belene project with a stake of 49%.

The previous cabinet started talks with the Russian government on a EUR 3.8 B state loan for the project and offered guarantees for it.

It hired BNP Paribas SA, France's largest bank by market value, to arrange a EUR 250 M loan to help fund construction of the nuclear power plant at the Danube river town, whose price tag towered from EUR 4 B to EUR 10 B.

NEK's poor results, triggered by a fall in power consumption, however forced it to breach the conditions on the loan, making it callable.

According to reports and non-governmental organizations RWE AG's plan to expand in Bulgaria's nuclear market is on the brink of collapse because financing for the project couldn't be obtained.

The new government of the center-right GERB party says it is not willing to provide any state guarantees for loans and will make a thorough analysis and research of the project.

It is to decide by the end of September whether to scrap or push ahead the construction of the multi-billion Belene nuclear power plant.


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