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Bulgaria seeks investor to revive nuclear project
by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) Dec 9, 2016

Bulgaria is looking for an investor ready to revive a long-delayed project for a new nuclear power plant on the Danube, the government announced Friday.

The announcement comes after Bulgaria's state-owned National Electricity Company on Thursday paid Russia's nuclear company Atomstroyexport a total of 601 million euros in compensation after cancelling the planned project to build a 2,000-megawatt twin-reactor plant at Belene.

In exchange, Bulgaria will receive the equipment manufactured by the Russian company.

"We have reactors, for which we paid 1.2 billion leva (614 million euros, $648 million) and we have invested 1.4 billion euros at the site. This is Bulgarian taxpayers' money and we are obliged to seek a way for these resources to be paid back," Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said.

Bulgaria scrapped the deal with Atomstroyexport after failing to find a foreign investor to fund its ever-rising costs.

Three companies, including China's National Nuclear Corporation "have expressed interest" in the project, Petkova said, adding that the ministry plans to launch a privatisation offer.

The move angered Russia which saw in Belene a chance to showcase in the EU its new generation pressurised water reactors and Atomstroyexport took Bulgaria to arbitration over the equipment.

Bulgarian prosecutors recently charged three former energy ministers over payments made in connection with the loss-making deal.

If the government fails to find a new investor, it will try to sell the reactors.

After joining the EU in 2007, Bulgaria -- a former top electricity exporter on the Balkans -- was left with only two operational 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at its sole nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, also on the Danube, that covers 33 percent of its electricity needs.

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