Bulgaria Strongly Advised against US Group Eyeing Belene

Business » ENERGY | October 2, 2012, Tuesday // 09:06
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Strongly Advised against US Group Eyeing Belene Bulgaria is mulling talks with a US-registered consortium to resume the abandoned Belene nuclear power project as a private endeavor. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria has been strongly advised against holding talks with a US-registered consortium to restart the abandoned Belene nuclear power project as a private endeavor.

"I would have been very suspicious [towards US group Global Power Consortium], if I were in your shoes," Murray Matiowsky, Managing Director at Canada's Manitoba Hydro Telecom, said in an interview for Darik radio.

Last week the recently registered consortium expressed interest in taking over the project to install two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors at the Danube River town of Belene and build it without state funds or guarantees.

The companies behind the consortium however are yet unknown.

Manitoba Hydro Telecom, one of Canada's biggest energy players, is the only company, which has confirmed so far it had contacts with the mysterious consortium.

Murray Matiowsky recalled how ten years ago he received an unexpected call from a company calling itself Halifax Communications Company. Its head was Arun Savkur, partner of Samuel Reddy, who came last week to Bulgaria to declare interest in taking over Belene project on behalf of "Global Power Consortium".

Matiowsky said that in 2002 Arun Savkur proposed that his company builds Manitoba Hydro telecommunications network.

After three or four meetings with them however Matiowsky decided it makes no sense to continue the negotiations.

"The construction of nuclear reactors is a huge endeavor and these gentlemen had no idea what they are talking about. I have worked in the nuclear sector for many years. The construction of such a facility takes a decade without even counting the preparation and planning. All this sounds very suspicious. "

Bulgaria's government has stressed it would consider the bid serious if the investors deposit 200 million euros, take up all liabilities of the nuclear plant and build it without state guarantees or long-term power purchase agreements.

Talks with the investor however will remain frozen until the results of an upcoming referendum, initiated by the opposition Socialists, come out, it emerged on Monday.

Bulgaria's government is currently tangled up in a EUR 1 B dispute with Russia over the termination of the Belene project. It is unclear how the GPC offer to "build" the NPP will affect the dispute.

In the middle of July 2011, 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 is 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 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.

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Tags: Risk Engineering, Bogomil Manchev, Quantum Group, Rosatom, ASE, Economy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, Russia, Atomstroyexport, Rosatom, Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, NPP, Belene, GPC, Global Power Consortium, Samuel Reddy, NEK

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