The procedure for selecting a strategic investor for Bulgaria’s Belene NPP project was published in the C176 issue in the Official Journal of the European Union on 22 May. When Bulgarian state energy company NEK announced the start of the procedure in March, it said the call for interest would become effective after being published in the journal, after which parties would have 90 days to apply and 12 months to complete the process. NEK said it would be looking for an investor for the construction of Belene with options to take a minority stake in a future project company or purchase electricity to be generated by the facility. The purpose of the call for interest is to gather information about potential candidates while Bulgaria will participate in the project company by contributing assets including the licensed site, nuclear island equipment, permits and documentation. According to the call for interest, the station must be operational within 10 years from the signing of an investors’ agreement and its cost must not exceed €10bn for both units. France’s Framatome, China’s CNNC, Russia’s Rosatom and US-based General Electric have already formally expressed an interest in investing or providing equipment and services for Belene. Talks have also been held with South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.
Initially, the 2000MWe Belene plant was to be built with the participation of Russia after Atomstroyexport (part of Rosatom) won an international tender in 2006 for the design, construction and commissioning of two VVER-1000 reactors. However, the project was cancelled in 2012, after a change of government. The project was revived, again, in June 2018 after a series of arbitration procedures, which saw Bulgaria pay €601.6 million ($691.5m) in compensation to Atomstroyexport for the equipment already manufactured. These components are now stored at the construction site.