Russia assists conservation of nuclear equipment in Bulgaria

25 August 2023

Bulgaria’s National Electricity Company (NEK – Natsiunalnata Elektricheska Kompania) will be able to continue to conserve the equipment delivered for units 1&2 of Belene NPP" with technical assistance from Russia’s Atomstroyexport. The government ensured continued maintenance of the equipment by adopting an exception to European sanctions imposed on Russia following its special military operation in Ukraine.

The Belene project envisaged the construction of two Russian VVER-1000/V-466 reactors and preliminary site works began in 2008. Contracts for components including large forgings and I&C systems were signed with suppliers. The plant was to be built by Atomstroyexport (part of Rosatom) after Russia won an international tender in 2006 but the project was cancelled in 2012, after a change of government. It was revived again briefly in 2018 after a series of arbitration procedures, which saw Bulgaria pay €601.6m ($691.5m) in compensation to Atomstroyexport for the equipment already manufactured. These components are now stored at the construction site.

Conservation activities are carried out at the Belene site to ensure that the condition of the equipment is maintained in accordance with the requirements of the manufacturer ZIO-Podolsk. Such maintenance can only be performed by Atomstroyexport with the participation of ZIO-Podolsk specialists. The current technical management contract for the conservation of long-range equipment, signed in July 2021, ends on 31 December 2023. However, this can now be extended in line with the requirements of the Public Procurement Act. A similar derogation was approved in September 2022.

Although plans to possibly use the equipment for expansion of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP have now been dropped, Ukraine has expressed interest in buying the equipment, with financing for the deal expected to come from the European Union.

Earlier in August, the Council of Ministers approved a derogation from the prohibitions introduced by Regulation ? 833/2014, which implements the European sanctions, to allow Kozloduy NPP to buy equipment from Russia. Kozloduy NPP comprises two Soviet-built VVER-1000 reactors (units 5&6). The Regulation allows for exemptions from the sanctions if this is necessary for operation, maintenance, fuel processing and ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities for civilian purposes. Kozloduy NPPcan now negotiate and receive deliveries from Russian companies for the purposes of the planned annual maintenance of unit 6. The equipment includes internal reactor detectors and asynchronous electric motors, as well as related supplies and services. The derogation also covers the supply of a power unit for the volume compensator, current transformers, as well as specific spare parts for a non-return valve and other components.

Image: BTA/Collage

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