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Bulgaria Mulls Reviving Stalled Belene Project As China Confirms Investment Interest

By Kamen Kraev
14 May 2018

14 May (NucNet): State-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has confirmed its interest in investing in Bulgaria’s stalled two-unit Belene nuclear power project, a statement by the Bulgarian energy ministry said.

The statement said deputy prime minister Tomislav Donchev and energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova met representatives of the Chinese company in Sofia last week.

According to the energy ministry, the Bulgarian officials informed CNNC that the project needs to be realised via a tendering procedure and without state guarantees and long-term electricity purchase contracts.

The ministry said CNNC confirmed its intention to participate in an eventual tender for the project.

In March 2018, Ms Petkova told Bulgaria’s parliament that CNNC had sent a letter to state energy company NEK declaring its interest in the Belene project.

Ms Petkova was later asked by parliament to present by the end of June 2018 a number of concrete options for the realisation of Belene.

Today Ms Petkova told reporters that a tendering procedure for Belene could begin by the end of 2018, if Bulgarian lawmakers would “give a mandate” for it.

She said the energy ministry will present “within days” its report on Belene to parliament.

Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov was recently quoted by local media as saying that the government is preparing to propose to parliament to formally revive the project by lifting a 2012 construction ban.

A nuclear station at Belene was originally planned by Bulgaria’s communist government in the 1980s, but was stopped in the early 1990s because of environmental and financial concerns. The project was revived in 2008, but formally abandoned in 2012 by a previous Borisov-led government because of uncertainties about its financial viability.

In 2016 Bulgaria paid €600m ($717m) compensation to Russia for components which had already been manufactured before the cancellation of Belene and is since looking for ways to revive the project.

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