More discussions on Bulgaria’s Belene NPP

11 August 2016

Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova has sent a letter to Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom Director General Sergey Kiriyenko concerning the selection of members for a working group on the Belene NPP project, the Ministry said on 9 August. The Bulgarian delegation will include the executive directors and experts from the Bulgarian Energy Holding and the National Electric Company. Petkova invited Russian experts to visit Bulgaria between 15 and 30 August for comprehensive talks on nuclear cooperation.

Bulgaria and Russia will set up a joint working group to review possible scenarios for the Belene plant, following the decision of the arbitration court in Geneva ordering Bulgaria to pay €553m ($628m) for equipment that had been produced by Russia's Atomstroyexport for the plant before the project was cancelled by Bulgaria in 2012. The experts will consider in detail options that are of mutual interest to both sides and will put forward a solution in the shortest possible time, the Ministry said.

Also on 9 August, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) asked the Parliament Chair to call an extraordinary meeting of the legislature to consider the BSP motion on lifting the parliamentary moratorium on the Belene project. BSP's Zhelyu Boychev welcomed reconsideration of the Belene NPP project. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said in early July that the government is working on at least three options for Belene: selling the equipment which has been produced for Belene; selling the entire project; or building the plant. On 6 August, Borisov said that Bulgaria' task now is to seek investors for the completion of the project. Parliament is currently in summer recess between 5 and 31 August.

However, Parliament Deputy Speaker Dimiter Glavchev said that no such motion has been submitted to Parliament adding that the BSP does not have 48 MPs needed to call an extraordinary parliamentary sitting as required by the Constitution. Glavchev called for nationally responsible conduct and said that the project is an emotional one. He said a political solution to the project is possible after the working group does its job.

The decision to set up the working groups came after Borisov had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 5 August, which also included possible reactivation of the South Stream gas pipeline project. Borisov said he has discussed the projects with the European Commission and they will be done in compliance with European Union rules. In 2014, Russia abandoned its South Stream project designed to carry Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea across Bulgaria in face of objection from the European Commission. 



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