Comment & People

China To Seek ‘Some Sort’ Of State Guarantees For Investing In Bulgaria’s Belene Project, Says Official

By Kamen Kraev
7 June 2018

China To Seek ‘Some Sort’ Of State Guarantees For Investing In Bulgaria’s Belene Project, Says Official

7 Jun (NucNet): State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) would require “some sort” of state guarantees to invest in Bulgaria’s Belene nuclear power station project, Xie Jiajie, president of the China Zhongyuan Engineering Corporation (CZEC) told reporters yesterday on the sideline of a conference organised by the Bulgarian Atomic Forum in Varna, Bulgaria.

CZEC is the overseas projects platform of CNNC and is in charge of marketing the company’s engineering, construction and procurement (EPC) projects worldwide.

Mr Xie said investment signals from governments have been traditionally required for all projects of the Belene magnitude.

He did not give details on the type of state guarantees CNNC would eventually ask from Bulgaria, but said such schemes usually vary depending on what countries and projects need. “We have to listen to the Bulgarian government”, he said.

Mr Xie said CNNC is ready to cooperate with Russia on Belene, but also added that proposing Chinese reactor technology for the project is “one possible choice”.

He said CNNC considers its potential involvement in the Belene project to be part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is focused on connectivity and cooperation between Europe and China.

In March 2018, Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova told parliament that CNNC had sent a letter to state energy company NEK declaring its interest in the Belene project. CNNC later confirmed the information officially.

According to the energy ministry, Bulgarian officials had informed CNNC that the project needed to be realised via a tendering procedure and without state guarantees and long-term electricity purchase contracts – conditions which the Bulgarian government had insisted on since 2016.

Yesterday, Bulgaria’s ruling centre-right majority introduced a draft motion to parliament which seeks to give a mandate to the energy ministry to find ways of restarting the Belene project in cooperation with a “strategic” investor, but without involving any state guarantees including long-term electricity purchase contracts, contracts for difference, preferential pricing or “other non-market” support schemes.

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