“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 earlier this week by the Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom).
The Bulgarian energy ministry said Framatome is one of the companies which has expressed an interest in taking part in the Belene investor selection procedure, which formally started last month.
The ministry said Ms Petkova also held talks during the conference with officials from Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the China National Nuclear Corporation.
According to reports in Bulgarian media, Evgeny Pakermanov, president of Rosatom Overseas, told the Bulatom 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.
Mr Pakermanov said 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 Bulgaria’s reluctance to offer some form of state guarantee for the project is “a concern”.
In 2008, Bulgaria ordered two Russian VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor units for Belene, but the project was cancelled in 2012 because of financial and political considerations.
In June 2018, the government formally revived the project following a vote in parliament.
A 2016 arbitration settlement awarded Bulgaria most of the nuclear equipment already produced by Russia for Belene under the 2008 agreement.
Framatome, CNNC, Rosatom and US-based General Electric have already formally expressed an interest in investing or providing equipment and services for Belene. Talks have also been held with South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.
Lat month Bulgaria published a call for interest for potential investors in Belene in the Official Journal of the European Union, staring an investor selection procedure first announced on 11 March 2019.
According to the call for interest, the station must be operational within 10 years from the signing of an investors’ agreement and its cost must not exceed €10bn for both units. The call also reiterated Bulgaria’s position that Belene must be built on a market basis, without state guarantees or long-term electricity purchase contracts.