In December, the ministry invited five companies to file binding offers: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Russia’s Atomenergoprom, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, France’s Framatome and US-based General Electric.
By the 31 January deadline all five companies had sent letters to confirm they were ready to file binding offers, with KHNP also sending additional questions in order to make a final decision on whether to participate in the tender, the ministry said in a statement.
The deadline for submitting final binding offers is 31 May 2020.
Rosatom, CNNC, and KHNP will be invited to bid as investors in the project, while Framatome and GE will be offered the opportunity to supply equipment for the project.
In August 2019, seven companies, three of which were Bulgarian, applied to be investors in Belene. Framatome and GE want to supply equipment and help in the financial structuring of the project, without investing their own capital.
The Belene facility, estimated to cost about €10bn, could be operational in 10 years. Bulgaria plans to choose investors by 22 May 2020 to build and operate two Russian-made VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor units at the site on the Danube River.
Bulgaria, which has two commercial nuclear plants at the Kozloduy nuclear station, ordered the two Russian reactor units for Belene in 2008, 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.
As a result, if Bulgaria goes ahead with the project, Russia’s Atomstroyexport will be the main contractor.