PM: RWE Remains in Bulgaria Belene Nuclear Project

Business » ENERGY | September 28, 2009, Monday // 14:48| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: PM: RWE Remains in Bulgaria Belene Nuclear Project Juergen Grossmann (pictured), chief executive officer of Germany's second-biggest utility RWE, conferred on Monday with Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Photo by BGNES

German utility RWE has not abandoned plans to participate in the construction of a 2000MW nuclear plant in the Danube town of Belene, Bulgaria's new prime minister said on Monday.

The company remains in talks with Sofia on funding, Boyko Borisov announced after meeting with RWE Chief Executive Juergen Grossmann to discuss the future of the plant.

The meeting followed reports that Germany's second-biggest utility may quit the construction project over its rising costs.

"We discussed how to get out of the swamp that the previous government put us into. RWE are not giving up the project, they feel responsible and this is what keeps them still in, even though they won't be paying damages if they leave," Borisov added.

"They are not giving up, but they, like us, say: 'How much will it cost?'," he added.

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%.

Bulgaria intends to cut its shares in the project from 51% to 20-30%, which will still allow the country to keep its blocking quota.

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.

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.

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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