Bulgaria's Socialists Demand Restart of Belene Nuclear Project

Business » ENERGY | July 13, 2016, Wednesday // 14:49
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Socialists Demand Restart of Belene Nuclear Project File photo, BGNES

Lawmakers of Bulgaria's biggest opposition party BSP have called on Parliament for a reversal of a 2012 decision that brought the Belene Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) project to an end.

"We extend a hand and put all of our expert potential to work to solve the problem," the Bulgarian National Radio quotes Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) MP Tasko Ermenkov, who oversees energy issues.

Ermenkov is referring the dilemma facing Bulgaria after an arbitration ruling that forces it to pay EUR 550 M to Russian company Atomstroyexport over the suspension of the Belene project. Transferring the sum, it will also receive in return a nuclear reactor and other equipment produced by Atomstroyexport for the plant's purposes.

While Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov considers an option to sell the reactor to a third country, Ermenkov has been skeptical about the prospects.

"The idea [that someone will] buy the equipment is quite exotic, since this equipment is not a second-hand car that can be sold anywhere."

In Ermenkov's words, the only decision is to "complete Belene NPP with with a strategic investor, with two prerequisites - understanding reached with the Russian side and, of course, finding the investor. There is no other option."

Borisov himself said earlier this week that a renewal of Belene should not be ruled out if no buyer is found for the reactor. Leading a large governmental delegation, he was in Iran on Monday and Tuesday, but no concrete agreement was reached despite the fact that Sofia saw Tehran as one of the most likely customers as it needs the reactor for the expansion of its Bushehr nuclear plant

Belene was one of three projects that formed the so-called Grand Energy Slam - energy infrastructure that Bulgaria agreed to work on with Russia. The other two were an oil pipeline between the Black Sea port of Burgas and the Greek city of Alexandoupoli and South Stream, a gas pipeline supplying the Balkans and Central Europe via Bulgaria.

The former was cancelled in 2011 by the Bulgarian government, and Russia abandoned South Stream citing opposition from the EU.

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Tags: Belene, Belene NPP, nuclear plant, Tasko Ermenkov, Atomstroyexport, Iran, Boyko Borisov, gas

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