by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) Sept 28, 2012
Bulgaria said Friday it was seeking information from the United States Department of Energy on a US-based consortium, which said this week it wished to take over a shelved nuclear plant project.
The Bulgarian energy and economy ministry said in a statement that it had requested "more information on the US consortium, which has declared interest in the Belene project, and on its representatives."
A New York-registered group -- Global Power Consortium -- said Wednesday it was ready to build the 2,000-megawatt plant at Belene, after Bulgaria abandoned a deal in March with Russian state firm Atomstroyexport to construct the plant.
The project's cancellation had prompted Atomstroyexport to file for one-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) in compensation.
Global Power's reluctance to release any information on its capital and major shareholder -- only named as Quantum Group -- has however sparked an outcry in the Bulgarian media, which has qualified the firm as "shady" and "unreliable."
The US embassy in Sofia also distanced itself from the consortium Friday, saying in a statement that it "trusts that the Bulgarian government will perform due diligence on any potential investors... as part of its evaluation of whether to pursue any future energy projects at Belene."
Bulgaria agreed to partially shut its single nuclear plant at Kozloduy when it joined the European Union in 2007 and relied on Belene to compensate for lost capacity and recover its position as a top electricity exporter on the Balkans.
Parliament is meanwhile to decide in the coming months whether to approve a national referendum on Belene, after the left-wing opposition collected over 500,000 signatures in favour of the poll.
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