Bulgaria’s most powerful politician buys Varna power station

Bulgaria’s most powerful politician buys Varna power station
Ahmed Dogan is the chairman of honour of Bulgaria’s ethnic-Turk DPS party.
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia September 13, 2018

Ahmed Dogan, the controversial chairman of honour of Bulgaria’s ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), has acquired 70% stake in local company SIGDA, which is the owner of the Varna thermal power plant, for an undisclosed sum, according to information from the company register.

The deal raises questions regarding Dogan’s already very strong influence in Bulgarian politics and on the energy sector as Varna TPP is a major electricity producer and has secured part of Bulgaria’s cold reserve.

Dogan acquired the stake from Stanislav Papazov and Ivelina Papazova, son and daughter of former transport minister Danail Papazov who is allegedly close to the DPS.

Varna TPP was sold by Czech energy company CEZ last year to Bulgarian company SIGDA for an undisclosed sum. The Czech company decided to sell all its Bulgarian assets as it was not satisfied with the business environment in the country and claimed that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had put significant pressure on it.

In September 2017, three of Varna TPP's six units were decommissioned, decreasing its capacity to 630 MW from 1,260 MW.

In May this year, Bulgaria's Electricity System Operator (ESO) said that Varna TPP had won a tender for the supply of 166 MW of power capacity for cold reserve for the period May 1 - July 31.

The following month, Varna TPP asked the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) for a 20-year licence for electricity trading. The company plans to sell electricity only on the Bulgarian market and has estimated that it could sell around 40,000 MWh in 2018.

Dogan, who stepped down as the DPS’s formal leader in 2013, but is still considered to be the informal head of the party, became known for his statements back in 2005 that the party had organised circles of business interests.

According to political analysts and independent media, Dogan has been behind all major political appointments in the country over the past years. In addition, the politician openly talked of his influence in the business world during an election campaign in 2009, saying that he was behind all major decisions regarding the financing of a business. 

“I am the instrument in the power who is distributing the portions of financing in the country. […] The power is in my hands! I want you to understand that,” Dogan said during a pre-election meeting with voters.