Russia Eyes 80% in Bulgaria Belene Nuclear Project

Business » ENERGY | February 25, 2010, Thursday // 15:12| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Russia Eyes 80% in Bulgaria Belene Nuclear Project A file picture dated 03 September 2008 of a worker during the launch of the project for the construction of a building of the first 1,000 MW unit of the second nuclear plant of Belane, some 220km from Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Russia can manage to grab a whopping 80% stake in the planned 2,000 megawatt Belene nuclear plant on the Danube River in Bulgaria in exchange for a EUR 1,9 B loan, according to reports.

“There is an option for the Bulgarian state to buy out that share, but if Sofia decides not to take advantage of it, Moscow will build the nuclear power plant and acquire a majority stake in it,” the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported.

Russia proposed last week to extend funding to Bulgaria for the construction of the stalled project until Sofia finds a strategic investor, even without corporate or state guarantees.

According to Bulgarian Energy and Economy Minister Traicho Traikov in exchange for the offer the Russian side can hold no more than 15-20% of the plant, while the remainder of the loan will be paid by electricity sales.

The minister confirmed that the government has abandoned plans to cut its shares from 51% to 20-30% and will aim to keep a 50% stake in the multi-billion nuclear project, which has stalled over lack of funding.

During last week's visit to Sofia, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom state nuclear corporation, announced that Rosatom, which controls Atomstroyexport contracted by Sofia to build Belene, was ready to extend a loan and become a shareholder in Belene plant.

Bulgaria's new center-right government, which has put the Belene under review due to rising costs, came up with the idea to hire a new consultant after German utility RWE walked out of the project due to funding problems and Sofia decided to redesign it to attract new investors.

Belene nuclear power plant may turn out to be the Russia's first wholly-owned nuclear power plant abroad, according to Kommersant.

The newspaper cites Sergei Kiriyenko as saying that the project is profitable and construction works should start quickly to prevent losses.

“Should Bulgaria fail to find a new investor and secure financing, Moscow is ready to continue the construction works and pay for them,” the Russian newspaper says, citing sources close to the ongoing negotiations.

The article cites analysts, according to whom the Russian side adopts the role of a bank, which extends loans to companies on the condition of acquiring shares if the loan is not refunded.

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Tags: Belene, Belene NPP, Nuclear Power Plant, Rosatom, Russia, Sergei Shmatko, Traicho Traikov
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