Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom still plans to participate in the tender for the construction of the Belene nuclear plant in Bulgaria, but has not yet submitted an application, Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev said on 6 June on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Likhachev said Rosatom will submit an application independently and not as part of a consortium. However, Likhachev said earlier that Rosatom would consider participating in the Belene project within the framework of international cooperation, but subject to the conditions that guarantee the profitability of the project. Rosatom First deputy head Kirill Komarov has said Rosatom is ready to provide the government of Bulgaria with any necessary support in the project.
In 2006, Atomstroyexport (part of Rosatom) won an international tender for the construction of two units at Belene NPP. Equipment was delivered to the site, but in 2009 work stopped and in 2012 Bulgaria cancelled the project. In May 2018, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced plans to resume construction of Belene and earlier this year a tender was announced for a strategic investor to support construction of the plant. As well as Rosatom, other companies that have expressed interest, according to the Energy Ministry, are China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, France’s Framatome and US General Electric.
Bulgaria’s energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that Bulgaria is also looking to attract Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia as potential investors. “The Bulgarian government believes the Belene project is important not only for Bulgaria, but the region as a whole”, she said during a meeting with Bernard Fontana, general director of France’s Framatome, on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom). Evgeny Pakermanov, president of Rosatom Overseas, told the conference that Russia is ready to participate as a main contractor for Belene, but has not yet made a decision whether it would take an investor stake in the project. Rosatom is ready to work with other companies interested in the Belene project, because “such projects are best realised in the form of international cooperation”, he said, but added that Bulgaria’s reluctance to offer some form of state guarantee for the project is “a concern”. This is clearly an issue in the negotiations with Rosatom.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev reaffirmed, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SPIEF, that "the project is to be implemented without government guarantees" as Bulgaria is unable at the moment to undertake liability for the risks related to the construction of the nuclear plant."Russia is interested in participating in the project. It provides technologies and ensures safety of its use but it expects government guarantees on this big project," he noted. Earlier this year, in March, Bulgarian Minister of Economy Rumen Ovcharov said the choice of investor for the construction of the Belene NPP was “predetermined” - it will be either the CNNC or Rosatom, he said, adding that the future investor considers the project as a political, and not as an economic issue.