Bulgaria Pays Belene NPP Debt

13 December 2016

Bulgaria's state-owned electricity utility company (NEK) on 8 December transferred the full amount of its debt to Russia's Atomstroyexport, part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which it owed for the cancelled Belene NPP project, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told parliament. The €602m ($636m) debt has to be paid by the deadline of 15 December, thereby avoiding nearly €30m in interest that it would have had to pay under the International Court of Arbitration ruling of 14 June. In return, Bulgaria will receive reactors and nuclear equipment produced for the project and will seek to use them and build the plant as a private project and with other partners.

In 2006, NEK signed a contract with Atomstroyexport to build the 2,000MWe Belene NPP but abandoned the project in 2012. Bulgaria is now “inspecting the equipment” on site, with experts from Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP visiting the Russian facilities where the devices are being stored, Petkova explained. Following their transfer to Bulgaria, the reactors will be stored at the Belene construction site.

Several companies have expressed interest in reviving the project, the most recent being China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). The government press service quoted a CNNC statement following talks with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, his deputy for European funds and economic policies of Tomislav Donchev, Minister of Energy and Temenujka Petkova. The talks were held at CNNC’s initiative.

"During the meeting, Prime Minister Borisov said the Belene project can be implemented on a commercial basis, without public investment and without any long-term contracts for the purchase of electricity. Chinese corporate representatives confirmed their willingness to participate in the project under such conditions, " the press service reported. The two other companies which have expressed interest are France’s EDF and an unnamed American financial consortium, according to press reports.

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