Bulgaria Signs Up Areva to Back Its Nuclear Interests in EU
Bulgaria's Borisov Cabinet has succeeded in becoming closer with Areva, apparently harboring hopes to get the powerful French nuclear corporation to help it protect its nuclear interests in the EU.
Areva's President Anne Lauvergeon was welcomed in Sofia Wednesday by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov for the second time in two months. Areva and the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) signed a cooperation memorandum covering both nuclear and renewable energy.
Borisov made it clear he was hoping the French energy conglomerate will help Bulgaria stand its ground in support of nuclear projects withing the EU in light of the heightened public safety concerns after the nuclear crisis in Japan's Fukushima NPP.
"We need lobbying and protection in Europe because the attack by greens, environmentalists, and others on nuclear projects will be horrendous," the Bulgarian PM said making it clear he referring to both Bulgaria's efforts to extend the life of the two operational 1000 MW reactors of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, and to build a second NPP in Belene.
"If we have to shut down reactors 5 and 6 of the Kozloduy NPP the way we shut down reactors 1-4, Bulgaria will go bankrupt. We are relying on being able to extend the life of units 5 and 6," the PM said. Bulgaria had to close down units 1-4 of the plant ahead of schedule as part of its EU accession talks amidst heavy EU pressure.
"As far as the Kozloduy NPP is concerned, I would like to thank the President of Areva that when we were being pressured to shut down reactors 1-4, Areva and France were among our greatest protectors opposing the closure of the reactors," Borisov declared.
He has informed the management of Areva of the latest developments on the Belene NPP – the agreement that Bulgaria signed with Russia's Rosatom last week for setting June 2011 as a deadline for taking a decision on the construction of the plant, and signing just recently a consulting contract with the HSBC bank for the financial appraisal of the Belene project.
Borisov emphasized the fact that Bulgaria will go ahead with the Belene project only after making sure that all possible latest safety elements are present in it.
He reminded that Areva at present is involved in the construction of the Belene NPP since it is a subcontractor of Rosatom for the two 1000 MW reactors currently being built in Russia for the Bulgarian plant, and expressed his happiness that Bulgaria has made a cooperation deal with the French company.
"We are working with the best experts in the world – Areva," stressing that the French conglomerate will also help Bulgaria out with free expertise on certain issues, and that Bulgaria will be counting on its help when seeking to extend the life of reactors 5 and 6 of Kozloduy.
Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov pointed out in turn that the agreement BEH singed with Areva provides for exchange of experience and expertise on nuclear safety, among other things.
Areva President Anne Lauvergeon pointed out that the French company is ready to be a subcontractor for the construction of the Belene NPP and to offer the best technologies but that there are lessons to be learned from the Fukushima NPP crisis in Japan.
"I understand all the debates organized by the Bulgarian government and the PM in particular. I can congratulate the Bulgarian government for the way it is managing the present complex situation," Lauvergeon said adding that Areva believes emphasis on safety is never too much.
She emphasized the fact that Bulgaria has moved to develop all kinds of green energy in addition to its nuclear facilities.
Areva President Lauvergeon was already in Bulgaria in mid February 2011 for nuclear talks with Borisov and Traikov.
Under the signed BEH-Areva memorandum, Bulgaria and Areva will cooperate in the Balkan country's nuclear projects, which include maintaining the Kozloduy NPP and the potential construction of the Belene NPP, they will share experience on human training, reaching high safety standards and within hydroelectricity.
Areva is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in the Tour Areva in Courbevoie, Paris. It is mainly known for nuclear power; it also has interests in other energy projects.
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