PM: Bulgaria Freezes Belene NPP Project over Uncertain Returns
Bulgaria is freezing the construction of its second nuclear power plant at Belene because of the lack of guarantees for the profitability of the project, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced.
“There is no clear indication when Bulgaria will get back the money it will invest in the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. We are ready to sit down immediately and discuss the price of the investment with anybody who can show me a price. Everything else is just empty talk,” the PM declared after meeting with the ambassadors of the EU member states in Sofia.
Borisov explained that “Bulgaria is freezing the construction of the Belene plant because we are continuing to search for a strategic foreign investor.”
He emphasized the cost of the planned Belene NPP by comparing it with the contract for USD 20 B signed recently by Russia and Turkey for the construction of four nuclear reactors in Turkey’s first NPP.
“If somebody tells me where I can get BGN 26 B to construct the Belene plant, and when we will get back our money, let them accuse me of delaying the project. This is the final balance,” the Bulgarian Prime Minister declared.
After its initial start in the late 1980s, the Belene project was restarted in 2008 by the Socialist government of Sergey Stanishev. It was estimated to cost about EUR 4 B, half of which were supposed to come from the German energy company RWE in exchange for a 49% stake in the plant.
After the Borisov government took office in the summer of 2009, Bulgarian officials estimated the price of the plant at about EUR 10 B. In the fall of 2009, RWE withdrew from the project, prompting the Borisov government to start searching anew for a strategic foreign investor.
The Russian government, whose company Atomstroyexport is supposed to construct the future nuclear plant, has offered Bulgaria state loans on a couple of occasions – EUR 4 B in the spring of 2009, and EUR 2 in the spring of 2010, in order to keep the construction going until Bulgaria finds an investor.
However, those offers have been rejected by both the Stanishev and the Borisov governments. Prime Minister Borisov has explicitly made it clear that Bulgaria will not construct the new 2000 MW plant unless it finds a strategic investor from Western Europe.
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