The Bulgarian authorities plan to start the process of selecting a strategic investor for the construction of the Belene nuclear plant before the end of February, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told the national radio on 3 February.

"At present, our experts are drafting an invitation for the first stage of choosing a strategic investor. This invitation will be published in an official publication of the EU and in two Bulgarian newspapers. I hope the selection will start before the end of February,” she said. “It will be as public and transparent as possible.

Bulgaria is seeking to build the Belene plant for €9 billion ($10.2bn) over eight years. Strategic investors were given several conditions, in particular, to maximise the use of the equipment, that has already been delivered to Bulgaria, and to continue working under the previously approved project. The maximum cost of construction is €10 billion, and its commissioning should not exceed ten years. The primary requirements for development to continue include building the plant under market conditions, without state guarantees or guarantees relating to sales of electricity produced.

Initially, the 2000MWe Belene NPP was to be built with the participation of Russia after Atomstroyexport (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) won an international tender in 2006 and signed a contract in 2008 for the design, construction and commissioning of two VVER-1000 reactors. However, the project was cancelled in 2012, following a change of government.

The project was revived, again, in June 2018 after a series of arbitration procedures which took four years to conclude. With Bulgaria paying €601.6 million ($691.5m) in compensation to Atomstroyexport for the equipment already manufactured for the plant. These parts are now stored at the construction site.