Bulgaria abandons Belene

29 March 2012

Bulgaria has abandoned its plans to build a 2000 MW Russian-designed nuclear power plant at Belene and will construct a gas plant there instead.

The country's has been unable to attract foreign investment in the project since German utility RWE pulled out in 2009. Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov said that the country could simply not afford to build the plant that would cost around EUR 10 billion in total.

“With its cost at EUR 6 billion and with an interest rate from 10 to 12 percent, six years of construction of the plant would cost about EUR 10 billion. We cannot pay this,” Borissov told Bulgarian National Radio.

Borissov added that Bulgaria would also need to shoulder the seismic risks associated with the site.

The Belene project has already cost Bulgaria 1.4 billion levs ($948 million), according to Reuters, and the country will pay Russian contractors an additional EUR 140 million ($200 million).

The reactor vessel and internals that were destined for Belene have already been manufactured by Russia’s OMZ Izhora and was due to be shipped to Bulgaria’s National Electric Company (NEK) in April. The components are now likely to be used in a seventh unit at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant site.

The Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Delian Dobrev will leave for Moscow on 29 March to officially inform the Russian side of the project suspension.

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