Romania to sign nuclear power deal

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SOFIA, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Romania is due to sign a deal with selected foreign bidders to build two more reactors at its nuclear power plant in Cernavoda on Nov. 20, one of the investors, GDF Suez, said on Tuesday. Earlier this year, the Balkan country decided to retain a 51 percent stake in the planned reactors and leave the remaining 49 percent for the six bidders it chose last year as partners.

The partners are Belgian Electrabel, owned by French power giant GDF Suez, German power giant RWE, Czech utility CEZ, Italy's Enel, Spain's Iberdrola and a Romanian unit of steel giant ArcelorMittal.

"We will sign the first stage of an investor agreement on the 20th (of November)," Paul Rorive, group senior vice-president nuclear activities at GDF Suez, told Reuters on the sidelines of a nuclear conference in Sofia.

"The idea is to have a first step, a so-called baby project company in order to finalise the development of the project."

Asked whether all six selected bidders will take part, Rorive said: "Everybody is welcome. We will see in two days who will sign."

Rorive said among the things that had to be completed were selecting a supplier, receiving authorisation from the European Commission and achieving agreement among the many investors on the various aspects of the project.

Romania's Prime Minister, Calin Tariceanu, has estimated the investment in the two new units at Cernavoda, which has two existing reactors, at around 4 billion euros ($5.05 billion).

Work at the Cernavoda plant began 30 years ago. The plant's first unit went on stream in 1996 and the second in 2007. The two new units, planned at 706 megawatts each, should be completed by 2015.

Romania, along with many fellow ex-communist countries in central and eastern Europe, sees nuclear energy as part of the solution to climate change and the need to meet growing electricity demand.

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