Russia's Rosatom still interested in Belene - report

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One day after German utility RWE said that it was pulling out of the proposed Bulgarian nuclear power plant at Belene, Russia's state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom said that it was still interested in taking a stake in the project, Russian business daily Vedomosti said on October 29.

Rosatom's interest in the plant, announced earlier by chief executive Sergey Kirienko, remained unchanged by RWE's announcement, Vedomosti quoted a company spokesperson as saying. The spokesperson did not provide further details, the newspaper said.

RWE was picked to buy 49 per cent in the company that would build and operate Belene, with the rest held by state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding. RWE cited the economic crisis, the failure to sign a final contract with the contractor and the failure to secure financing as the reasons for withdrawing.

Bulgaria will now hold a new tender to pick an investor for Belene and could offer as much as 80 per cent in the plant as it looks to reduce the state stake and the funding that the Government would have to secure. Bulgaria does not plan to offer state guarantees for the loans that would have to be taken to build Belene, officials in Sofia have said.

Deputy Economy Minister Maya Hristova said it could take between one year and a year and a half to pick a new investor, during which the Belene project is expect to receive all necessary permits from the country's Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

The delay means the initial plans to link the two 1000MW reactors, to be built by Russia's AtomStroyExport for a fee of four billion euro, in 2013 and 2014 will have to be pushed back. Despite the delay, an AtomStroyExport spokesperson, quoted by Vedomosti, said that the company had no plans to demand damages from Bulgaria at this time because the project was progressing according to schedule.

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