EPC companies invited to apply for construction of new Kozloduy units

24 January 2024

Kozloduy NPP subsidiary, Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild (Kozloduy NPP Novi Mostnosti) is inviting interested companies or consortia to apply to build units 7&8 at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP under an EPC (engineering, procurement & construction) contract. While the units are to have Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, US-based Westinghouse will not take part in the construction but will retain overall control of the project. Applications must be in English and have to be in by 2 February – “any application received after this deadline will not be considered”.

Deputy Energy Minister Nikolay Nikolov told Bulgaria's official BTA news agency in December that the aim was to achieve a price of about €6bn ($6.5bn) for each of the units. It also quoted him as saying that potential construction companies had been narrowed down to Bechtel, Fluor and Hyundai, and that the Bulgarian state was expected to be the only investor in the project.

Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov told a government meeting in December that construction of unit 7 at the Kozloduy NPP had begun and an additional BLG500m ($274m) would be allocated to the enterprise that would be responsible for the implementation of the project with an expected completion date of 2033. He added that preparations for the construction of Kozloduy unit 8 would also begin so that the units could be put into operation at intervals of two to three years.

Currently, Kozloduy NPP operates two Soviet-built VVER-1000 reactors (units 5&6). Bulgaria was obliged to close four older VVER-440 units as a condition for accession to the European Union, even though the units had undergone significant safety upgrades.

In January 2023, the Bulgarian Parliament by a majority vote had decided on the need to build two new reactors (units 7&8) using AP1000 technology and obliged the government to negotiate with the US government on this issue.

In March Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild and Westinghouse had signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a joint working group to plan deployment of the AP1000 reactor in Bulgaria. In June, Westinghouse signed a Front-End Engineering & Design (FEED) contract with Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild for a AP1000 reactor to be constructed at the Kozloduy NPP site. In October, the government reversed a long-stalled decision to build new units at the Belene NPP and cancelled the procedure for selecting a strategic investor for its implementation – in effect formally approving the Kozloduy units as the preferred alternative.

The call for EPC expressions of interest was issued following the replacement of Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild’s Management Board with new personnel. Company Director Valentin Iliev was relieved of his post along with Management Board members Georgi Kirkov and Ivaylo Ivanov. Petyo Ivanov was elected new CEO. He is a former director of Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Board Chairman of Bulgargaz. In 2019, the anti-corruption commission accused him of a conflict of interest because, as head of BEH, he determined his salary in Bulgargaz and he was dismissed.

Other new Board members include former director of the Canadian gold mining company Dundee Precious Metals Alex Nestor - a longtime leader of American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria; Svilen Spasov, a former Chairman of the Varna shipyard and a former consultant to Westinghouse; and Yanko Dinkov linked with companies for importing beverages and dealing in real estate. Mediapool commented that although the appointments were formally made by Kozloduy NPP management, they were political appointments in reality made by the "ruling political parties".

The document was published at the sites of the Kozloduy NPP, Kozloduy NPP-Newbuilt and BEH. It said the overall objective is to have an AP1000 plant procured, constructed, commissioned and operational before 2035. Westinghouse will hold overall design authority responsibility but “responsibilities for the design of individual AP1000 plant systems and buildings will be delegated”.

The responsibility for the design of modules, constructions assemblies and platforms will rest with the party “responsible for the design of the building in which the item is located”. The document notes: “The division of responsibilities with respect to design, engineering, transport and logistics, construction and erection/installation, commissioning and startup activities are defined in a separate document for division of responsibilities, which will eventually be part of the EPC contract.”

There is a long list of criteria for eligibility. Candidates “according to their national legislation” must not be bankrupt or “subject to proceedings for a declaration of bankruptcy; convicted of an offence or professional misconduct grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting; liable for tax or other arrears; or have a conflict of interests. The Assignor (i.e. Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild) reserves the right to cancel the current procedure at any time; “will not be liable for any damages whatsoever”; and will not cover any costs related to the application.

Candidates must have “deep knowledge and significant expertise and experience in engineering, construction, supply and commissioning of nuclear units in order to address the technical and financial requirements of the nuclear energy sector”. They must have:

  • experience as leading constructor in contract/s for construction and commissioning of at least two nuclear units;
  • experience in contract/s for detailed design of systems, structures and components within nuclear island or turbine island of nuclear plant for at least two nuclear units; and
  • experience in contract/s for supply and installation of important equipment within nuclear island or turbine island of at least two nuclear units.

Candidates from the Russian Federation will not be considered and shortlisted

Image: Kozloduy nuclear power plant

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