Russia pledges support for Bulgaria’s Belene NPP

24 April 2019

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom is ready to provide the Bulgarian Government with any necessary support for the project to resume construction of the Belene NPP, Rosatom first deputy director Kirill Komarov told a press conference on 19 April at the XI International Forum  Atomexpo 2019. "For our part, Rosatom, whether or not we are an investor, will provide all possible assistance to Bulgaria in order to implement this project," he said. He noted that Rosatom had given a firm guarantee to Bulgaria, as a vendor of plant construction technologies, to assist in the implementation of the project if it is decided to resume the project, including offering consultancy services. Komarov said that he believes the Belene NPP can be built faster than any other new NPP  in Europe, given that all the necessary equipment for this station is ready.

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 parts are now stored at the construction site. Bulgaria is now seeking to build the Belene plant for less than €10 billion in under ten years. Strategic investors have been asked to maximise the use of the equipment that has already been delivered to Bulgaria, and to continue working under the previously approved project.

On 16 April, Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenujka Petkova said excellent collaboration continues between the Kozloduy NPP and Rosatom in the implementation of the programme for the modernisation of units 5 and 6. As to the Belene project, she said: "We will publish the documentation in the Official Journal of the European Commission and we will then inform the interested companies in writing that the 90-day deadline for submitting applications has begun." She added that the National Electricity Company (NEK) will complete the project licensing procedure. An opinion has been received from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency confirming the validity of the authorisations issued so far, she said. Completion of the licensing process will enable potential investors to have full information on the project and to ensure Bulgaria retains a share in the future project company. She noted that Bulgaria depends on a partnership with Rosatom at all stages in the implementation of the Belene project, with both sides continuing their active dialogue on the launch of the strategic investor selection procedure. Other companies that have expressed interest in the project include  China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), France’s Framatome, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and General Electric (USA).

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