RUSSIA MAY HOLD 20% IN BULGARIA BELENE NUCLEAR PROJECT
Bulgaria may offer Russia to become a shareholder in the planned 2,000 megawatt Belene nuclear plant on the Danube River with a 20% stake, the economy and energy minister said on Tuesday.
Russia proposed last week to extend funding to Bulgaria for the construction of the stalled project until Sofia finds a strategic investor, even without corporate or state guarantees.
According to Minister Traicho Traikov in exchange for the offer the Russian side can hold no more than 15-20% of the plant, while the remainder of the loan will be paid by transmitting electricity.
The minister confirmed that the government has abandoned plans to cut its shares in the project from 51% to 20-30% and will aim to keep a 50% stake in the multi-billion nuclear project in the Bulgarian Danube town of Belene, which has stalled over lack of funding.
During last week's visit to Sofia, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom state nuclear corporation, announced that Rosatom, which controls Atomstroyexport contracted by Sofia to build Belene, was ready to extend a loan and become a shareholder in Belene plant.
The news comes shortly after the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) invited the tender for a consultant last week to help it decide how to proceed and attract new investors for the planned Belene nuclear power plant.
Bulgaria's new center-right government, which has put the Belene under review due to rising costs, came up with the idea to hire a new consultant after German utility RWE walked out of the project due to funding problems and Sofia decided to redesign it in the next year to attract new investors.
The government has said however that it is not willing to provide any state guarantees for loans and has decided to push ahead due to purely economic terms.
RWE's departure from Bulgaria's new Belene nuclear plant put extra pressure on government to find new shareholders and redefine the scope of investment it needs.
Belene's reactors are to be of the Russian VVER-1000 class, while the Western companies are providing instrumentation and control systems.
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