Serbia, North Macedonia eye stake in Bulgaria’s Belene NPP

By bne IntelliNews March 5, 2019

Serbia and North Macedonia have shown interest in getting stakes in Bulgaria’s planned second nuclear power plant, Belene, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said on March 5.

The Bulgarian government currently plans to re-launch the Belene nuclear power plant project and is looking for foreign investors. The government’s strategy aims to secure construction of Belene within 10 years at a cost of up to €10bn.

The two countries would like to get stakes as future consumers of the electricity produced by Belene NPP, Donchev said in an interview with bTV.

He added that Bulgaria will seek several types of investors in the project – a strategic investor who will give cash for the project, the Bulgarian state that will participate with already acquired equipment and investors who will be consumers of the produced electricity.

Sofia is expected to launch a tender for investors by the end of March.

Earlier this year, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that Montenegro also wants to participate in the project. Local large companies have shown interest in acquiring stakes as future consumers.

Donchev also said that the Belene project cannot be completed without the participation of Russia’s Rosatom that supplied equipment for the plant several years ago. Company representatives have arrived in Sofia with Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Rosatom has already expressed interest in participating in the project.

Last year Belene’s revival united the ruling coalition comprised of GERB and the United Patriots with the main opposition in parliament, the Socialist Party (BSP), but raised serious concerns among economic analysts and opposition parties outside parliament about the viability of the project and the true reasons for its restart.

In November the European Commission noted it was considering that Bulgaria has to start the whole procedure from the scratch, as it sees it as a completely new project, not a resumption of a previous one.

Petkova has said that the government will probe the real interest of potential investors in the project and an investor should be picked by the end of 2019.

Four international companies, including China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), Rosatom, and companies from France and Korea, have shown interest in the construction of the Belene plant, Petkova said in November.

The government’s strategy aims to secure construction of Belene within 10 years at a cost of up to €10bn.

According to Democratic Bulgaria, the cost of Belene’s construction would be at least BGN21bn (€10.7bn), an expense that would seriously threaten Bulgaria’s economic stability. The country has so far spent over BGN3bn on Belene.

Economists claim that Bulgaria does not need the new power plant, which if completed will have two 1,000 MW reactors. While it was initially seen as a replacement for the ageing Kozloduy nuclear power plant, in January 2016 Kozloduy signed a contract to extend the lifespan of its two remaining reactors until 2049.

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