Bulgaria’s Belene project refuses to die

15 May 2017

Bulgaria is seeking private investors to build the Belene NPP, which was cancelled in 2012, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on 11 May during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported. Bulgaria cancelled the project after failing to find foreign investors and under pressure from Brussels and Washington to limit its energy dependence on Russia. Since then Bulgaria has opened a gas link with Romania and is working to connect its gas network with Greece, Turkey and Serbia to diversify its suppliers.

It hopes to privatise the NPP project after it paid more than €600m ($652m) in compensation to Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom for equipment already manufactured for the €10bn project. Rosatom had agreed to provide the nuclear reactors and had also offered a low-interest loan. The Bulgarian government has already said that Belene could be built without state guarantees or obligatory long-term contracts for the government to purchase the power produced.

In December, the government said that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) was ready to finance the Belene NPP. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has also expressed an interest in investing in the project.

During the phone call, Borisov and Putin also emphasised their mutual interest in the construction of the natural gas hub on Bulgarian territory, the government's press office said. Plans for a hub at the Black Sea port of Varna, to store and transport gas from Russia and the Caspian Sea to southeastern and central Europe, are an alternative to Russian gas company Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline project, which was cancelled, and which would have shipped Russian gas under the Black Sea through Bulgaria to central Europe.

 



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